• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the Functionalist and Marxist explanations of the role of religion in society.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the Functionalist and Marxist explanations of the role of religion in society. Functionalists take a reductionist view point, reducing the role of religion to its mere functions. They consider religion to be necessary and inevitable as it serves to ensure the stability and equilibrium of society. In this way therefore religion is functional to hold back anomie. As a system of shared norms and values, religion assists socialisation and creates social cement which promotes social harmony. Functionalists therefore see this as a normal, positive and safe state for society to be in. In particular religion is seen to support value consensus, integrating and patterning standards of behaviour by the values and beliefs held by its cultural system. As such, religion provides guidelines for human actions, and standards against which human conduct can be measured. By sharing these standards social accord maintains equilibrium, and so in turn religion is a tool for meeting this prerequisite. Parsons was interested in how guidelines for conduct were a reflection of how religion has brought meaning to life. He says one of the main functions of religion is to "make sense" of all experiences in life, no matter how meaningless or contradictory they seem. ...read more.

Middle

It is the process of uniting for a common purpose that is considered 'sacred' that gives them strength. Malinowski did however note this as magic, but others have commented on how this functions religiously, and can be regarded as a religious practice. This example therefore further promotes the functionalist view that religion promotes social solidarity, and is therefore functional to the well-being of society in dealing with stresses that threaten its stability. In contrast to this view, Marxists note religion as playing a crucially different role in society. Unlike Functionalists, who see religion as serving society as a whole, Marxists say religion benefits only those who own productive wealth because it merely masks and legitimates exploitation and inequality in society. A recent example of this that Steve Bruce discussed was with conservative Protestants in USA. The New Christian Right consistently supported right-wing political candidates in the Republic Party, more specifically Ronald Reagan in 1984 elections. Yet in the 1988 elections he was challenged by New Christian Right candidate Pat Robertson. Robertson, a television evangelist, wanted to enforce a more aggressive anti-communist rule, with less welfare spending and more free enterprises. Bruce noted therefore that the religious group sought to defend the interests of the rich and powerful over the subject classes. ...read more.

Conclusion

the Catholic Church, and in particular its leaders, have displayed their autonomy by acting against the bourgeoisie's interests when it conflicts with their religious customs. Potentially therefore, some Neo-Marxists see religion is an outlet for its members' grievances and a channel though which they can resist oppression. From this therefore the liberation theory has developed and we can see how religion can function to enforce change rather than prevent it. Martin Luther King for example, a political and religious leader, used religion to justify new civil rights and the reduction of racial discrimination. Archbishop Tutu opposed the apartheid in South Africa also, using religion to change people's way of thinking, and thus bring about change. In conclusion we can see how Functionalists and Marxists have largely different views on the role of religion in society. Traditionally they would both agree that it prevents change but even this is debatable within both persuasions. There are also internal debates on whether religion serves society as a whole or simply its members and the individual. Functionalism tends to take a very inclusive attitude towards analysing religion's role and often fails to recognise its negative influences, while Marxists take a very negative view, failing to recognise how religion is necessary to maintain equilibrium. 1 Olivia Santiago ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the Functionalist and Marxist views of society.

    5 star(s)

    in technology from a functionalist view is seen as an advantage, however Marx believed it led to a imbalance of power between those who owned the means of production and the urbanisation of the workers to sell their labour. Marx saw society not harmoniously but as a tool of oppression

  2. Compare and contrast the Marxist and Functionalist explanations of the role of religion in ...

    the Amish. Also Durkheim does not recognise the fact that religion can be a force for social change. Another criticism is the fact that society does not always work as a force for social integration and consensus, with many conflicts being over religion, for example in Northern Ireland or the former Yugoslavia where religion challenges social order and cohesion.

  1. Women's role in society

    'There is a congruence between the sexual division of labour in the domestic sphere, which consigns women to domestic labour, and the needs of capitalism for a distinctive kind of labour force - part time, lowly paid, and flexible. This explains the job segments that are occupied by women in the labour market.

  2. Compare and contrast Marxist and Functionalist accounts of religion.

    Religion has allows supported class systems and promoted inequality. In gender. In work. In authority. Everything that Marxism is opposed to. "The rich man placed in his castle - The poor man placed at his gate" Malinowski, famed for his research at the Trabaind islands, did not see religion as

  1. Evaluate Marxist and Functionalist Views of Religion.

    Functionalists look at religion in a very positive way. They see that religion gives meaning to life, and that it helps answer our questions about ourselves, and the world we live in. Religion also helps others make sense of their experiences. A criticism of the functionalist view is that it ignores dysfunctional views of life.

  2. Functionalist views on Religion.

    * Both see religion as a conservative force. It inhibits change. * Both see it as providing comfort/support to individuals. Differences * Functionalists see religion positively, it promotes value consensus, and social solidarity. Marxists see religion negatively, it hides, distorts, and legitimises inequality and perpetuates class societies.

  1. Evaluate the view that religion acts as a Conservative force in Modern society

    It can be argued that this is a contributing factor to the struggle for women to gain high status jobs in society with religion being a traditional and powerful institution. It is definitely true that the Church itself has not given positions of power within it to women regardless of their high attendance and commitment.

  2. Compare And Contrast Marxist and Functionalist Views on Society and Education.

    Functionalists see education as serving the needs of an industrial society with an advanced division of labour. They believe that it is important for the functioning of society that people are slotted into work and social roles that match their abilities.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work