Religion as 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. He also argued how they were completely
dependant on society itself.
Durkheim believed that social life is impossible without the shared
values and moral beliefs that form ‘collective consensus’. He believes
that without these norms and values there would be no social order,
control, solidarity or cooperation between people and basically no
society itself. He argues that the worshipping of society strengthens
these values and beliefs that form the basis of social life.
Functionalist theories like Durkheim establish the thought that
society shapes religion.
Marxists such as Weber uses a one sided approach in which religion
leads to social change, and is shown in his argument of the role of
Calvinism in the development of capitalism. Weber believes that ideas
can influence the social structure. He adopts the social action
approach and demonstrates how different religions lead to different
economic outcomes and shows how other religions such as Buddhism,
Hinduism and Islam all are religion in which have different morals
beliefs and values and so are not suited to the development of
Calvinism and he shows how religious values can encourage and promote
social change rather than oppose it and so does not believe that
religion is a conservative force in the same way that functionalists
like Marx and Durkheim do.
Weber argues that religion plays a radical role in society, a force
for social change.
Weber is seen as a social action...