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

Is religion a conservative force

Extracts from this document...


Natashia Pettet 13.1 Is religion a conservative force? 'Conservative forces' in this context can be defined as forces, which protect the existing social order, and radical forces being the opposite of conservative forces are those, which promote change. '' Religion is essentially a conservative force in society and if that is true than it would also be true that religion can also play a part in social change.' To evaluate whether religion is a conservative force or a force for social change I am going to first look at the different perspectives of what role religion takes in a society. The functionalist perspective on religion examines it in terms of society's needs and is mainly concerned with the contribution religion makes to meeting these needs; Durkheim presented an argument from the functionalist perspective he stated that all societies divide the world into two separate categories: The 'sacred and the profane'. Durkheim also put forward another argument, called totemism. Durkheim studied an aboriginal society "the most basic form of religion. Durkehim believed that the totem pole was a symbol and its true nature was symbolic of the aboriginal society that worships the totem pole. To put it simply he points out that they are worshipping their own society. This is because the totem stands for the values of the society that worships it. ...read more.


Malinowski argues that religion promotes social solidarity by dealing with situations of emotional stress that threatens the stability of society. Talcott Parsons, another functionalist, argued that human action is directed and controlled by the norms provided by the social system. However, the cultural system provides more general guidelines for action in the form of beliefs, values and systems of meanings. Such values are not isolated standards for behaviour, but they are integrated and patterned by the values and beliefs provided by the cultural system. Criticisms of functionalism are it neglects that religion can be disruptive and divisions between religions themselves and other religion, divisions that can lead to open conflict. And in some religions where religion can strongly be seen as a cause for social change by creating open conflict. Marxists argue that religion is a form of social control that maintains the capitalist system, which is ruled by the elite and exploits the lower classes. This would basically be a system of keeping people in their place. This Marxist theory basically implies religion is used to control society in such a way that it benefits the ruling-class. Manduro is a contemporary neo-Marxist argued that religion is not always a conservative force, and that it can be revolutionary. This is a very different perspective view of religion and Manduro being a neo Marxist implies it can cause both conservative and radical changes. ...read more.


It is now accepted that religion can be force for social change. Despite the examples used by functionalists and Marxists to support their perspective of religion promoting conservatism there are other examples which I wont look into now that contradict this view. To conclude I personally feel that religion can be a force for social change if you look at the arguments put forward by Weber's view in "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", yet through the functionalist and Marxist views it can also prevent social change if the ideology of the ruling-class is a strong enough force to keep society subservient and under capitalist control Due to this, I tend to agree with the neo-Marxists mostly, as they allow for both theories, religion being a force for social change and act as a conservative force to be put forward. However I can't ignore that the functionalists and Marxists put forward some good arguments and a very good and interesting point in saying that sometimes it is the society changing that shapes religion not religion that shapes society. This means that there are four different reasons as to whether religion is a conservative force for social change, as it takes into account how society can prevent change and maintain the same religious views or shape religion differently throughout the changes that occur in society. ...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. Peer reviewed

    Assess the view that religion is a conservative force within society (40).

    5 star(s)

    equal while religion plays an important part in society as it promotes the male dominated existing social order. However other sociologists argue that religion is a radical force in society, causing conflict, a lack of stability and change within the society which it is in operation in.

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

    However conflict can be seen within different nations as obviously both today and in the past there have been religious wars and power struggles which come hand in hand with religious tension. The Taliban are a fundamentalist Islamic group who have attacked capitalist America because of religious teachings and a misalignment in beliefs.

  1. Functionalist views on Religion.

    The notion of reincarnation in which people are reborn is important. The only was of being reborn into a higher caste is by fulfilling the duty in this life-this way there is a strong incentive to adhere to the rules of the caste and maintain social order.

  2. This essay will explain the functionalist, Marxist and Social action theories of race and ...

    This eases their suffering, pertaining to the discrimination they endure throughout life. (Haralambos, 2000, page 231) Pryce describes, in explicit detail, the 'frustrations and humiliations' that summarise the typical existence of 'black' individuals residing within Britain and extends the reader rationale behind the non-conformity and conformity among the West Indian population in Britain.

  1. The Role of Religion As a Conservative Force and As an Indicator of Change.

    o Religion explains economic and social inequalities in supernatural terms - in other words, the real causes (i.e. exploitation by the ruling class) are obscured and distorted by religions insistence that inequality is the product of sin or a sign that people have been chosen by god, etc.

  2. Is religion a force for social change?

    Religion was, in essence, another part of the ruling class ideology, i.e. the pervading ideas of the ruling class in society that ensure that the existing social order of capitalism continued. Orthodox Marxists see religion as integrating, stabilizing and regulating people's behaviour.

  1. Defining religion.

    Argued that human actions directed & controlled by norms provided by the social system o Norms which direct action are affected by the values & beliefs of the cultural system Eg. Norms in Western society are expressions of the value of materialism o Religion's part of the cultural system o

  2. The Influence and Role of Religion In Hopi Society.

    Children, who die prior to puberty, cannot enter the underworld and their hikwsi stays on earth until another child is born or until the mother dies and it can accompany her to the underworld (Glowacka, 1998, p.7.). Incorrect behavior during life has a direct affect on the disposition of the soul.

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