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

Compare the Marxist approach to Religion with the Weberian.

Extracts from this document...


Sociology Religion Annabelle Atkinson "Compare the Marxist approach to Religion with the Weberian." Karl Marx believed that people's religious beliefs reflect their alienation. In pre - socialised societies, people are in a alienated relationships with their work, with the products of their work and each other. Religious beliefs therefore arise in a response to, and as a protest against, people's lack of control of their destiny and their dehumanisation and oppression. In Marx's view, religion is the self - consciousness and self - feeling of man who has either not found himself or has already lost himself again. He believes therefore that if the alienation and exploitation associated with social classes is eradicated religion will no longer be needed and cease to exist. This argument can be developed in a number of ways. First, religion distorts reality by encouraging the belief that people are dependent upon supernatural forces. This means that because events are out of our control there is little people can do apart from trying to influence these powers through prayer or sacrifice. In this way religion obscures the human responsibility for social inequality and thereby discourages the realisation that working for social change may be possible. ...read more.


He considered that the underlying principle behind modernisation is rational, scientific thought - the use of the most effective means to achieve given ends. Applied to technology and to organisation, rational thought has restructured the social world. Equally to the point, applied to the human race's understanding of itself and its place in the social universe, rational thought has undermined religion and replaced it with various secular and, largely, materialistic explanations of our existence and relationship to nature. Loss of intellectual authority and status has helped and will continue to erode the moral authority of the church. However, both see this change differently. Marx views the decline of religion as a positive change. He argued that the proletariat will see through the fog of bourgeois ideology and become revolutionary. He goes onto claim that the proletariat's revolution will be made by the majority. This will enable a classless society to be formed in which the ideals put forward in the French Revolution will be fully realised: freedom will replace oppression; fulfilment alienation; equality inequality; fraternity self - interest. Marx called such a society communism. ...read more.


Weber's main theoretical point is that ideas can change history, and in doing so can contribute to changes in the material context of life. It will be remembered that the whole trend of Marx's analysis of religious ideas is in the opposite direction. He sees them as primarily as justifying existing social and economic circumstances, and certainly not as providing a major source of historical change. Instead he believes religion was an ideological pall intended to obscure new and different ideas. But Marx did recognise that new ideas could be developed. Human consciousness is able to react thoughtfully and creatively to experience, particularly everyday work experience. Socialism itself had to be "thought of" before it could become a reality. However, for Marx, ideas are formed within, and structured by socio - economic material reality. Socialism can only become possible when society is economically and socially developed to the point where socialist ideas are seen to be realistic. Weber's studies of religion are also important from the methodological point of view. As an exercise in comparative sociology; they rank alongside Durkheim's study of suicide. Weber's conclusion was that the relationship is one of variety. Religion can help to cause change or impede it; it might be used to support the status quo or against it. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy 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 AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. 'Socialists have disagreed on both the means and ends of socialism' - Discuss

    Therefore the proletariat was not the majority and was not 'class-conscious', and communism was upheld by a communist elite. However, there were significant discrepancies between Soviet Communism and the Marxist model of communism. Firstly, Marx envisioned the collective ownership of the means of production - socialisation.

  2. "What are the main strengths and weaknesses of Marxist histories"?

    The crux of his argument was that capitalism was irrational. Marx did agree that the capitalist system was unparalleled at the method of production it used. However, under that same system, the problem existed of how to distribute the products its factories have made.

  1. An analysis of the Marxist perspective on religion

    that you are in pain and need to do something to make you feel better. You want relief from an intolerable situation. To get this relief you take a pain-killer. After a while, the pain goes away and you feel much better.

  2. Socialist uses of workers' inquiry

    Since the year 1840 this assertion, which even before that date was only half-true, has lost all semblance of truth; for the most diverse machines are now applied to the manufacture of the machines themselves on quite as extensive a scale as in the manufacture of cotton yarn, and the

  1. Discuss the conflicts between Employee and Employer by Marxist

    In every organisation or company where people work together, misunderstandings and agreements will occur. Sometime, conflicts often are hidden in a workplace, which has not been dealt with in an open way. These types of hidden conflict can lead to decreased motivation among the employees.

  2. How revolutionary were Lutheran and Calvinist theories of authority?

    Resistance theories spread in different forms around Europe. They originated in Germany due to Martin Luther's protest against Papal corruption. Martin Bucer and Philipp Melancthon, both prominent German reformers were also influential in supporting Luther's ideas. English, Scottish, French and Dutch writers developed Luther's resistance to authority; they aimed to defend the Protestant reformation against persecution.

  1. What exactly is Weber's Protestant Ethic Thesis?

    He also suggested that the systems of thought behind Protestantism and capitalism had an "elective affinity", that is to say they overlap or contain similar ideas. He argued that the Protestant Ethic emphasised asceticism, hard work and individualism, qualities also implicitly valued in capitalist practice.

  2. An analysis of the Marxist Perspective on Religion

    Background on ideology Of all the areas Marx wrote on, his comments on religion are by far the shortest, as they are very blunt and to the point. He states that religion plays a crucial role in maintaining the social class inequality present in capitalism, and so in order to

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