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Evaluate The View That Religion Acts As A Conservative Force On Modern Society

1243 words - 5 pages

Functionalists and Marxists do not agree that religion causes change within society. This is because they believe that religion acts as a conservative force within society. A conservative force means that religion prevents change within modern society. On the other hand feminists believe that religion does not act as a conservative force as it has helped to bring some changes within modern society, for example equal rights for women. Weber believes that religion is the force for change within society. Although these views are all 'out of date' they still provide an understanding for society which helps to understand why some view agree with the view that religion acts as a conservative force on modern society.Durkheim is a functionalist who believed that religion acts as a conservative force on society, he believed that there were sacred things and these were symbolic. What these sacred items represented was a collective consciousness which is a basic set of shared beliefs, values and social norms. He believed that the collective consciousness keeps the group together which would mean that religion is a conservative force in society. If people did not share the same interests they would want change and would go through religion to change things. Durkheim believed in the division of labour, he said that as society became more complex the collective consciousness would become weaker because people from on group in society did not see themselves as the same as another group. This would cause a change in society because the groups are waning different things. Durkheim examined religion in small-scale, non-literate societies. In today's large scale, complex societies usually contain a variety of different religions. It is possible to see how his ideas do relate to modern society.Marxism believes that religion acts as a conservative force on society, religion is one of the institutions which maintains the capitalist rule within society. Religion distorts reality by encouraging the belief that people are dependent upon supernatural beings or sacred powers. For example the belief that events are controlled by supernatural powers, this means that there is little people can do to change their situation, apart from trying to influence the supernatural powers by prayer, sacrifice or some other means. In this way religion obscures the human authorship of and responsibility for social inequality and thereby discourages the realisation that working for social change may be possible and desirable. Marxists also believe that religion often appears to lend sacred support to the current social order and in doing so reinforces prohibitions against actions which would challenge those in power. So this would mean that religion does act as a conservative force on society. However in modern capitalist societies innovation and high rates of social mobility are required for the success of capitalist enterprise, religious teachings have been largely abandoned. It can still...

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