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Evaluate the idea that religion acts as a conservative force in society.

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Introduction

Evaluate the idea that religion acts as a conservative force in society There are many ideas and theories based around the topic of religion. In regards to the question posed the relating theories are action theories, such as Weber who argued that religion can possibly encourage change, and, structural theories, such as Marxism and Functionalism e.g. Religion being the 'Opium of the masses' as stated by Marxist sociologists. Functionalist sociologists believe that the institutions of religion maintain social stability. Functionalism is a structural theory. Emile Durkheim (Functionalist sociologist) believes religion has two functions, the first, is that it infuses norms and values into society's as well as uniting people. Durkheim, from the 1890's, predicted that today's modern societies would revere individuals instead of seeing themselves as more important, however, this was seen as an important way of keeping society together. ...read more.

Middle

Durkheim's view is the most logical and simple explanation on view. Regarding Parsons view, it can be clearly seen what point he is getting across and that, at times, it is correct, but this cannot be applied to all societies it would only be applicable to more forward and western thinking societies. The Marxist sociologist's see religious institutions as both conformist and defiant to social change, however, they see the institutions serving the ruling class than society in general. They also see religion as the 'Opium of the masses' which eases the pain caused by higher, manipulative classes. This model can be shown by the example of the Hindu caste system, in this system the lower castes support the higher castes in attaining nirvana in hope that they are reincarnated into a better presence in their next life. I find this view confusing in it self to understand, but feel that this is, again, correct in a lot of circumstances. ...read more.

Conclusion

I found Phenomenology difficult to grasp and still haven't completely grasped it, so, I am not in a position to discuss whether it is a theory that works. In conclusion, I feel that in the past religion was very conservative but in today's more modern world religion, among other things, have evolved forward. I do think, however, that more people are turning towards religion and using it a comforter. There are exceptions to this however, as some religions have grown stronger and united more people globally, such as Islam. There are also smaller religions such as the Sikh religion which bind people together through actual faith and no god instead of the worship of being such as Allah. Ultimately I feel that only a minority of religions, such as Christians in Jerusalem and Catholics in Ireland, in the west fully survive and act as a conservative force, religions in the east, however, seem to be run by the religion itself instead of worshipping through the self and by the self. GSB 1 ...read more.

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