Beliefs in Society summary


TOPIC 1 - Theories of Religion

Functionalism (Durkheim): maintain the status quo

- sacred and profane (forbidden and have no special significance). Representing collective conscience (shared norms, values and beliefs) - preventing society from disintegrating

- religion promotes social solidarity.  psychological functions - to cope with emotional stress (Malinowski)

- Parsons: - creates/legitimates society's central values, primary source of meaning

- Bellah: - civil religion integrates society in a way that churches and denominations cannot

Marxism (Marx):

- as a feature only of class divided society - no need for religion in classless society. religion and alienation: under capitalism workers have no control over production.  

- operates as an ideological weapon used by ruling class - to legitimate suffering of the poor as god given


- patriarchy - religion, worship, sacred texts, laws, etc

- Armstrong - early goddesses. - Woodhead - religious forms of feminism = gain freedom and respect

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TOPIC 2 - Religion and Social Change

- Weber: force for change (calvinism -> predestination)

- Consensus (social stability), Capitalism (false consciousness/prevent revolution), Patriarchy (patriarchal power/maintains women subordination)

- Civil Rights Movement succeeded but the New Christian Right failed to gain support

-portestnat ethic contributed to capitalism

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TOPIC 3 - Secularisation

- church attendance has been declining (1.6m in 1960 -> 0.8m in 2013)

- Weber: rationalisation (especially in western society) - rational scientific outlook

- Bruce: growth of technological worldview has largely replaced religions - looking for scientific and technological explanations

- social, cultural and religious diversity - industrialisation, diversity of cultures and lifestyle undermines religion.

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TOPIC 4 - Religion, Renewal and Choice

- Davie: major change in religion towards consumption or choice - religion isn't declining but taking a different/privatised form

- Leger: spiritual shopping - personal choice, decline in obligation

- globalisation -> online religion, religion online (Helland)

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