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Evaluate the view that Religion acts as a conservative force in modern society.

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Introduction

Evaluate the view that Religion acts as a conservative force in modern society. Within the sociology of religion there have been many debates over whether there is a relationship between Social change and Religion. Many perspectives in sociology discourage the idea that Religion acts as a conservative force but there is much evidence given by the likes of Marxism and Feminism which support the idea that Religion acts to prevent social change. It may seem unfair to count Religion as a whole, considering that it does embody so many different opinions, beliefs and rituals. If we did judge Religion in its entirety then we could say it acts a force for change and as a conservative force at the same time, in modern society. Sociologists may also analyse how Religion has developed, for example, new Sects and Cults have very different views at times, which we cannot underestimate. Feminism is one perspective which agrees that Religion acts a conservative force in modern society. They believe Religion justifies Patriarchy and all dominance over women. For example, in Christianity 'God' is often described as male and Eve was made from a part of Adam for the role of 'helpmate'. ...read more.

Middle

It is clear that there is evidence to support the Marxist view that Religion acts as a conservative force in Modern society as it supports the powerful and justifies the position of the masses. There is, however evidence which suggests that Religion can encourage a social change. Functionalist theories have seen Religion as a stabilizer for society. Religion encourages value consensus, strengthens social solidarity and deals with life crises. The collective conscience, according to Durkheim, reinforces the norms and values of society which are bound together by Religious rituals which the masses take part in to uphold social stability. Malinowski believes religion reduces stress which results from events which threaten social live, like life crises (Birth, puberty, marriage etc). Stress's which are brought on by a funeral may be overwhelming, but with Religion their emotions as a collective are stabilized by a promise of an after-life. Without this balance, emotions may become uncontrollable leading the masses to take 'emotion action' which could mean as much as a revolution to find answers they now crave, as Religion fails to justify their position in society. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is clear that most theories believe that Religion acts a Conservative force which seeks to keep Status quo. Marxism emphasizes that the Religion will always justify the mass's position and the Ruling class's false promises. Functionalists highlight value consensus and social solidarity caused by Religion. Feminism provides evidence that Religion acts to maintain Patriarchy as is still doing this. The one who would disagree with these claims the most is Max Weber who would argue that Religion acts in the opposite way, seeing it as a radical force for change. Geoffrey Nelson argues that throughout history their have many changes to society which have been governed by Religion. For example, the 'Peasants' revolt was lead by a Priest (John Ball) and his reason for this revolt was God driven for the fight for the equality of the poor. However, Nelson also shows that Religion can act as a conservative force. Using, again, the Peasants revolt, although lead by a priest, many churchmen and lords condemned the rebellion. This proves that Religion can act as both a conservative force and a force for change. It all depends on time, place and the type of Religion. ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Proctor ...read more.

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