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

Religion can be both a conservative force and an initiator of social change.'To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view of religion? Sociological arguments such as Marxists think religion inhibits social change

Extracts from this document...


'Religion can be both a conservative force and an initiator of social change.' To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view of religion? Sociological arguments such as Marxists think religion inhibits social change and is kept as a conservative force. However, Functionalists think religion is an initiator of social change. Marx said religion inhibits social change and helps to oppress workers. Karl Marx said that in a capitalist society there was conflict between the ruling class and the working class because the ruling class exploit the working class to get the most profit out of them. Marx says the working class are in a state of false consciousness. This is where religion comes in. Marx is very critical of religion. He says it keeps the working class in a state of false consciousness. Marx said 'Religion is the opium of the people' meaning it dulls the pain of oppression like opium. It doesn't take away the pain though. ...read more.


But in some cases, there was evidence to suggest that religion can encourage social change. Engels thought that in some circumstances religion could actually be a revolutionary force. Sometimes religion is the only means of change because all other routes have been blocked. Neo-Marxist Otto Maduro (1982) claimed that religion isn't always a conservative force. In the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic priests in Latin America criticised the bourgeoisie and preached Liberation Theology- using religion to free people from their oppression. This led to resistance and social change - in 1979 Catholic revolutionaries threw out the oppressive government in Nicaragua. Maduro said religion is often 'one of the main available channels to bring about a social revolution.' Functionalists on the other hand see religion as something that inhibits change and helps keep society as it is. They think this is a positive role which creates social order based on value consensus. Durkheim studied Aboriginal society and found that the sacred worship of totems was equivalent to worshipping society itself. ...read more.


Weber spotted two important things in Calvinism: Predestination- Early Calvinists believed in predestination which says your life and whether you have a place in heaven is predetermined by God. Only a specific few were chosen for heaven. This created anxiety- you didn't know if you'd been chosen. Ascetic Ideal - Working hard in your job was a solution to this anxiety. Success might be a sign that you were chosen for heaven. Early Calvinists lived a strict and disciplined life of hard work and simple pleasures. Weber claimed that the ascetic ideal created an ethic of disciplined hard work. This is the spirit of capitalism. Not only was there a build up of capital and business, there was the right work ethic for capitalism. Religion indirectly brought about change. However Eisenstadt (1967) contradicts Weber's theory by claiming that capitalism occurred in Catholic countries like Italy before Protestant Reformation happened and before the ideas of Calvin ever came out. In conclusion, sociologists both have good arguments and evidence to suggest that religion is both a conservative force and an initiator of social change. Christine Haralambous Sociology Essay ...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)

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

  2. "Marxism and other theories of social conflict are irrelevant to an understanding of modern ...

    This is to say that Marxism is irrelevant in today's modern society as it will only justify the "proletariats" to revolt at the start of an economic crisis. To do this they would need to win the "hearts and minds" of social groups leading to the demise of capitalism.

  1. Primary Sources and Social Change in the industrial revolution

    "I have three children working in Wilson's mill; one 11, one 13, and the other 14. They work regular hours there. We don't complain. If they go to drop the hours, I don't know what poor people will do. We have hard work to live as it is.

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

    He believed that religion when coupled with certain factors was a force for social change and revolution. He identified the Calvinist Church protestant ethics as a change which brought about capitalism. Therefore rather than holding society together Weber argued that religion being the emotive topic that it is can lead to huge changes, division and conflict.

  1. Assess the view that religion acts as a conservative force on society.

    Karl Marx claimed that the proletariat are alienated and oppressed by the bourgeoisie and religious beliefs. Marx believes that religion acts as a drug "opium of the people" he argues that religion takes away the pain of inequality between the bourgeoisie and proletariat with the promise of heaven.

  2. "As researchers are also members of society it is impossible for them to be ...

    These are the basic assumptions that sociologists make about the nature of social life and human behaviour. Sociologists tend to commit themselves to a particular set of domain assumptions, and these direct the way that research is conducted and conclusions are reached.

  1. Is religion a force for social change?

    Religion made the present more acceptable as it gave hope of supernatural intervention in the future when the problems on earth would be sorted out by God - the oppressed waited for this to happen instead of rebelling and overturning the system current at that time.

  2. Compare and contrast the six main sociological theories of religion as well as examining ...

    Marx was aware, however, that religions generally developed from the oppressed, as a means of coping with their situation. Thompson studied the development of Methodism in England and found that, although it was initially supported and promoted by the bourgeoisie because of its stress on hard work, it was gradually

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