Produce an essay identifying the different sociological approaches to secularisation with reference to Marxism, Webber and Durkheim.

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Sociology Secularisation

Produce an essay identifying the different sociological approaches to secularisation with reference to Marxism, Webber and Durkheim.

In my assignment I will be looking at secularisation and the different sociological explanations and theories, from sociologist such as Marx, Webber, Durkheim and Wilson. I will then look at how these different views compare and differ with one another.

It can be seen that an on-going debate by sociologists is the disagreement whether religion encourages or inhibits social change. Most sociologists agree that as society changes and evolves so will changes to religion. However, many have claimed that this change will lead to the disappearance of religion altogether. It has been thought since the early 19th century that industrialization and the growth of scientific knowledge, would lead to the decline of religion, known as secularisation.

Emile Durkheim a functionalist did not see religion as hopeless. He looked more at its function within society. He saw religion as maintaining social cohesion, a main part of society where religion brought people together. However, he anticipated that religion was on the decline of social significance. This is because in an industrial society where there was a highly specialised division of labour, religion would lose a part of its power for integrating society (Holborn, 2009).

This is where Durkheim believed the Education System would replace the religions part of social solidarity, instead of religious rituals. The Education System can place religion where it wants on the time table, not religion dictating to the Education System. This in itself shows how it would lead to a reduction in religion. If religion is given less time in people’s everyday life, whereas before, in pre-industrial society people would spend as long as they needed practicing and reading religious literature. The average 9-5 job and school timetable does not allow this.

Durkheim, however, did not believe religion is condemned. He saw religion as maintaining social cohesion, transforming from a traditional religion into a new form of religion. By looking over the 19th and 20th century he saw a huge social change by industrialisation and urbanisation as a threat to religion. This change led to the breakup of small communities and in some places ones which were isolated (could be classed as back in time). Industrialisation was destruction to the norms which dictated to previous behaviour. This resulted in a collapse of social solidarity and collective consciousness. This is because the integration of close knit communities, shared norms and values, was religions ‘organ’ to survive, without this its future is uncertain (school, 2011).

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Durkheim predicted that religion would be re-positioned to the corner of people’s lives and marginalized through industrialisation. This could be due to the fact businesses are structured for profits and not the workers lives. He believed religion would be forced to be a private matter for people, leading to privatization. On the other hand he did not see the decline of religion as an irreversible trend; he saw that all societies must have some sort of sacred symbols and communal ritual if they are to continue. This may show how even though Durkheim believed religion would become less main-stream in ...

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A few issues... “Webber” is spelt incorrectly – it is “Weber”. The writer also occasionally uses random capital letters in the middle of sentences, “... that it will die away from society, Opposed to Durkheim”. But on the whole the quality of writing is sound and coherent and will not detract marks from the essay.

There is a wealth of information about Functionalism, namely Durkheim’s views, “By looking over the 19th and 20th century he saw a huge social change by industrialisation and urbanisation as a threat to religion” however this could be improved by name-dropping some other Functionalists like Parsons. This would then gain more evaluative marks as Parsons tends to agree with Durkheim about secularisation, so it makes Durkheim’s views seem more convincing. Key terms in Sociology are used well in context such as “institutions”, “capitalism” and “social differentiation” which indicates to the examiner that they have a good general understanding. The use of discourse markers at the beginning of paragraphs like “however” and “on the other hand” are clever to use because already the examiner is then forced to give you evaluative marks! I would suggest that the candidate writes more about Marx and Weber though to gain the maximum amount of “knowledge” marks. But including Bryan Wilson’s views in this essay is a good idea to show that you have knowledge outside of the specific theorists mentioned in the question. The use of a bibliography is useful for future reference as well as very credible, as it shows that the writer realises they have used other sources to help create their own assessment of the question.

I have always been told that this is not the best way to do an introduction. At A Level the examiners don’t really like candidates to use the words “I” and “my” because the essay is supposed to be wholly objective. So instead of “In my assignment I will be looking at...” the writer should state: “This essay will discuss...” as it just seems more sophisticated and unbiased. The conclusion’s contents are good but it suffers from the same mistakes that the introduction does. In general the structure is fair because it begins with Durkheim, and then proceeds to discuss views of Marx and Weber which is what the question is asking for.