Document Sample
Religion Powered By Docstoc
					Religion and Social Change
• 4 main arguments here

• 1. Religion prevents social change
• Religion is a cause of the retention of
  conservative or traditional values.
• This is the view of both Functionalists
  and Marxists
Religion and Social Change
2. Religion causes social change

• Quite simply there are those who
• That religion causes changes in
• E.g. Weber
Religion and Social Change
3. ‘It Depends’approach

Here quite literally it depends on a
   variety of things
In some cases religion prevents change
In others…it causes change
Religion and Social Change
4. Changes in society cause changes in

This is the basis of the secularisation debate
  – see later notes
“The debate concerning the role of religion in
  society is essentially a debate about cause
  and effect.”                    Click here for more
Religion and Social Change
•   Religion prevents change
•   Religion as a conservative force
•    Functionalists see religion as an
    integrative force in society, helping to
    preserve the status quo.
•    Marxists agree that religion acts in
    opposition to social change but this is in a
    negative way i.e. it helps to perpetuate the
    class system under capitalism
•    However, the word 'conservative' can be
    used in different ways
Religion and Social Change
Conservative can mean that things are kept
   as they are.
Some things become ‘traditional’ and always
   have to be done in a certain way,
this helps to bring about continuity and
   stability to a society.
Religion and Social Change
Conservative can be used in a way which
   opposes any new ideas.
This is obviously linked to point 1 but can go
   further in that some groups can actively
   campaign to prevent change from
e.g. The Roman Catholic Church and its
   ideas on birth control.
Religion and Social Change
Conservative can be used in a radical way, this seems a little
    bit of a paradox but if change occurs helping a group or
    society to revert back to ways of the past this can be
    seen as a step forward by some!
A good example of this is what happened in Iran in the 1979
    – the country reacted against the Westernising
    influences that had been developing and re-established
    a strict Islamic regime.
Many in the Western world saw this as a step backwards
    but many in the Islamic world saw it as a step forward.
Religion and Social Change
Religion is functionally necessary
It helps to maintain social stability and
It reinforces the collective conscience
it strengthens values and beliefs and
   promotes social solidarity
Religion and Social Change
Collective worship is regarded as particularly
  important for the integration of society
since it enables members to express their
  shared values and strengthens group unity
By worshipping together, people have a
  sense of commitment and belonging.
Ritual is very important to Functionalists
  such as Durkheim and Parsons
Religion and Social Change
Durkheim regarded Nationalism and
  Communism as the new religions of
  industrial society, taking over from
Flag waving, nationalism etc are the new
  forms of displaying collective sentiments
  Religion and Social Change
A service to celebrate the lives of Holly Wells and
Jessica Chapman took place at Ely Cathedral for
2,000 relatives, friends and Soham residents as well
as those who helped in the police investigation.
The parents of the murdered 10-year-olds had asked
people to come to the service in brightly coloured clothes
The best friends' bodies were found near RAF
Lakenheath after the girls had been missing for 13 days,
sparking a massive police hunt. School caretaker Ian
Huntley has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act
and charged with murdering the two best friends.
Religion and Social Change


        is the
      opium of
Religion and Social Change
'Religion is a kind of spiritual gin in which
  the slaves of capital drown their human
  shape and their claims to any decent life'
Religion and Social Change
for Marx religion was essentially a tool of
  class exploitation and oppression
Religion is part of the ‘false consciousness
People are conned into believing that
  everything is fair
Religion diverts them from focusing on the
  inequalities in their lives
God is ‘man/woman made’ – a human
Religion and Social Change
In communism religion would disappear as there
    would be no need for it
Religion ‘dulls the pain of oppression’ by the promise
    of paradise in the next life
Some religions make a virtue of suffering
‘it is easier for a camel…etc’
There is promise of more in Heaven/Nirvana etc
Religion justifies the social order….the rich man in his
  castle, the poor man at his gate; god made them
  high or lowly and ordered their estate.’ (All Things Bright
  & Beautiful)
Religion and Social Change
However, there are many Neo-Marxists who
 argue that religion does help promote
 social change
Religion and Social Change
Religion Causes Social Change

Weber believed that religion was a force
  for change and developed a theory that
  protestentism was responsible for
  capitalism developing. This was
  developed in his work:-
'The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit Of
Religion and Social Change
Weber believed that there was a
   relationship between religious belief
   and the ethos of capitalism
It was a particular form of
   Protestantism (ascetic
   Protestantism) which helped
   capitalism to develop in Europe.
The ‘ascetic’ bit was about strict
   adherence to biblical rules, an
   emphasis on hard work and self
Religion and Social Change
Thus, the religious beliefs of
  Protestantism coupled with
the presence of the necessary
  economic conditions
resulted in the development of
  the capitalist system.
A variety of Protestantism –
  Calvinism – was particularly
  Religion and Social Change
Was a 16th century protestant religion based on
  the works of John Calvin
They believed in pre-destination but were not
  sure that they were part of the ‘elect’
  destined for heaven – this led to a ‘salvation
Their frugal lifestyle helped them to convince
  themselves that they were saved
  Religion and Social Change
Certain facets of Calvinistic doctrine
 actively promoted capitalist
They emphasised hard work, no idleness
 (devil makes work for etc) no dancing,
 music, theatre etc
  Religion and Social Change
Sex only for procreation (cold baths and
 veggie diets were encouraged to
 dampen sexual ardour)
Basically, there was little to spend their
 money on and so many reinvested in
 their businesses - helping them to
 Religion and Social Change
Although rather a crude analogy – the closest group to
  the Calvinists of Weber’s writings are the Amish and
The Amish are a religious group who live in
  settlements in 22 states and Ontario, Canada.
The oldest group of Old Order Amish, about 16-18,000
  people live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The
  Amish stress humility, family and community, and
  separation from the world.
Religion and Social Change
Religion Causes Social Change
Weber - Criticisms
Weber's theory has been subject to
 considerable criticism, indeed it is
 a classic dispute in sociology.
The main criticisms are that Weber
 mislocated capitalism
 (historically); misinterpreted
 protestantism; misunderstood
 catholicism and misplaced
  Religion and Social Change
• Kautsky (1953) writing from a Marxist standpoint argues
  that capitalism actually came before Calvinism and that
  capitalists were attracted to Calvinism and adopted it
  because it helped to legitimise their way of doing things.
• Some sociologists and historians have argued that
  colonialism and slavery were more important in helping
  capitalism to develop than Calvinism.
• Some countries with large Calvinist populations (e.g.
  Sweden) did not industrialise, therefore pouring cold
  water on Weber’s theory. However, Marshall sticks up
  for Weber and points out that he never said that
  Calvinism was the only factor in helping capitalism to
  develop, other things such as skilled and mobile labour
  were also important.
  Religion and Social Change
The ‘It Depends’ Approach
This approach suggests that religion can both
  prevent change and force change depending
  on the circumstances.

An important point concerning change,
 however, is that religion can promote two
 main types of change: radical - a new
 direction in society, or conservative- a return
 to the social arrangements of the past
  Religion and Social Change
Thompson (l986),
outlines a range of factors affecting the relationship
   between religion and social change:
1. Charismatic leaders.
2. Beliefs end practices.
3. Relationship to society.
4. The social status of religious membership.
5. The presence of alternative avenues to change.
6. Organisational structure
  Religion and Social Change
Charismatic Leaders
There are many charismatic leaders who have
  caused social change e.g. Hitler, Christ
People are attracted to charismatic leaders
  and are ‘persuaded’ by them
Charismatic religious leaders often, provide a
  focus for discontent and a view of a better
  world – especially in sects.
  Religion and Social Change
Charisma has 3 key elements

1. It is used to describe a range of people
   from rock stars to teachers
2. It is often seen as dangerous – a leader
   can make people do things they wouldn’t
   normally do
3. Groups with charismatic leaders are often
   short lived. It is difficult to maintain the
   charisma element once the leader dies!
  Religion and Social Change
          Beliefs and practices
The main distinction here is between this
  worldly and other worldly beliefs.
 Other worldly beliefs
stress the powerlessness of humans and the
  inevitability of misery in this world,
but salvation in the world to come,
Consequently they provide little motivation to
  change society.
e.g. Hinduism
Religion and Social Change

    This worldly beliefs

    • encourage the individual to
      try and change the world for
      the better glorification of God.
    • E.g. The Moonies
  Religion and Social Change
Relationship to society
This is concerned with the extent to
  which the church is linked to the state
The closer the links the more likely it is
  that a church will support the state and
  maintain the status quo
e.g. Catholic Church in Ireland
  Religion and Social Change
Social change is likely to be promoted
 by denominations and sects that are
 on the fringes of society and whose
 membership is primarily made up of
 the poor and disadvantaged.
  Religion and Social Change
Social status of religious membership
 there is a tendency for established churches
 to draw their membership from upper status
 groups while sectarian movements tend to
 attract less privileged groups.

Thus sectarian movements may be seen by
  their members as a vehicle for the promotion
  of social change.
    Religion and Social Change
The presence of alternative avenues to change

   The idea, here, is that in the absence of
 political avenues for achieving social
 change, religion may be the only organised
 institution available that can provide the
 organisational tools for achieving change
The Catholic church was instrumental in
 helping the union ‘Solidarity’ promote
 change in Poland.
  Religion and Social Change
Organisational structure
• Religions with a centralised priesthood,
  hierarchy of paid officials and bureaucratic
  structure often inhibit change.
• Nelson (1971), argues that Sect-like
  organisations tend to encourage a 'withdrawal'
  from the world. Church like organisations
  encourage civil rights militancy.
• Neo Marxists like Gramsci and Madura suggest
  strong churches like The RC church can provide
  a vehicle for change in some parts of the world
  e.g. Latin America
    Religion and Social Change
Merideth McGuire 1981
Says the question should not be - does religion cause social change –
   but when, how and under what circumstances.
Beliefs – Where religion is concerned with ‘this’ world rather than
   the ‘other’ world it is more likely to enable change. Protestantism
   has more impact than Buddhism.
Culture – In cultures where religious belief plays a central part –
   then it is more likely to play a role in causing or preventing)
   social change.
Social Location – Where religion is intertwined with the political
   process it can play a part in enabling change
Internal Organisation – Religions with a strong internal
   organisation have more chance of affecting events

Shared By: