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Evaluate arguments for and against the claim that religion is essentially a conservative force in society.

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Introduction

Sociology - Religion Essay Evaluate arguments for and against the claim that religion is essentially a conservative force in society. A conservative force can be defined as a tradition that stops change from taking place and keeps things stable. For religion to be described as a conservative force would mean that it does just that. There are arguments both for and against this statement and they will be explored in this essay. Functionalists believe that religion acts as a conservative force in society. They feel that religion creates consensus and harmony. From a functionalist perspective religion creates order and order is necessary in a well-run society. They believe that religion supports traditional values and that problems such as anomie will not arise if religion is prevalent. A classic functionalist view on religion is that of Durkheim. Durkheim feels that religion links people together and provides social solidarity. He argues that religion is about beliefs and social practices, for example attending worship. Durkheim argues that religions link people together into communities. He says that the linking into communities arise because people practice together. ...read more.

Middle

Marxists and Feminists both criticise Functionalists perspective on religion however they agree that religion is a conservative force. Marxists criticise Functionalists view on religion, as they do not say that it gives you a false consciousness. Marx described religion as the 'opium of the people' as it led them into a false sense of happiness. Many people give money that they don't have to the church as religion has led them to believe they will receive their reward in heaven. Marxists also believe that religion can create conflict this can be seen in Northern Ireland with the ongoing battle of the Protestants and the Catholics. Marxists also believe that religion maintains and perpetuates inequality in society and it is just accepted. An example of this is the role of women in the church and the fact that women cannot become priests in the Catholic Church. Feminists also share this criticism, as they too believe that Patriarchy is an extremely prominent thing in religion. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the combination of these three elements Weber concluded that certain religious beliefs and practices played a crucial role in the capitalist development. He thought that this offered an explanation into why certain parts of Europe and the United States were more progressive than others. Calvinists also believe that religion can cause social change. Calvin was a theologian of the 16th century. He based his theodicy on the 'elect' he believed that at birth some individuals were pre-destined to go to heaven. Thompson believes that Calvinist teaching, especially the belief in pre-destination, provided a strong incentive for a disciplined and very active life in the world. To conclude it would be necessary to address how far religious does act as a conservative force in society. One can ascertain that it is a conservative force through the arguments of the Functionalists, Feminists and Marxists. They all feel that religion supports traditional values in society. On the contrary though the views of Weber and the outlook on Calvinism has shown that religion can also bring about social change. It can be said the view that religion is a conservative force can differ from person to person depending on their beliefs and views. Charlene Douglas ...read more.

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