Sociology Unit 3 - Beliefs in Society

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  • Created on: 15-05-16 23:20

Typologies - Church

Often know as a large formal organisation - for example Church of Enlgand


  • Large Formal Organisation
  • Heirarchy of Paid Officials 
  • Automatic Recruitment
  • Tries to Appeal to All members of Society - Mostly Middle Class
  • Close Relationship to State
  • Accepts Wider Society
  • Claims Monopoly of the Truth

Ernst Troeltsch - Developed the earliest classification of religious typologies. Identified the characteristic descriptions. Focused on 16th Century - outdated for modern society.

Church of England - Embraces these characteristics. Large connection to the state. 

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Typologies - Cult

According to Wallis - Cult are similiar to self help therapy groups in that they offee success and betterment through spiritual teachings. They accept the world but also aim to make individuals (and therefore the world) a better place.


  • Loose Structure 
  • Emphasise Opportunity and Success
  • Expect Followers to Continue Normal Lives
  • Have Open-Membership and are Tolerant of other Religions
  • Higher Class Membership
  • World Affirming

Stark and Bainbridge identy three types of cults. Audience cults arw more individualistic and unorganised, and are usually sustained through media, for example Astrology. Client cults are more organised and provide a service to the client for example Clairvoyance and Spiritualsim. Finally there's Cultic movements. These are almost like sects as they offer spiritual and material rewards to followers, for example Scientology.

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Typologies - Denominations

Wallis would describe Denominations as World Affirming - Denonminations are often breakaway movements from main churches. They do not 'reject' the world, or try to make the world better. They simply 'get on' with the state of the world and focus on spirituality and relgion rather than worldly affairs.


  • They are Bureaucratic but do have some Division in Authority and more Democratic
  • Generally Conservative
  • They Intergrate with the Social and Economic Structure of Society
  • They are Universalist with Open Membership
  • They are Tolerant of other Denominations
  • They are World Accommodating 
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Typologies - Sects (Part One)

Wallis would describe sects as - highly critical of the outside world and demand significant lifestlye changes from their followers. They tend to excersise complete control over their members and require hight levels of commitment. They often aim to create social change and often conflict with the state.


  • Small Group which are Often Hostile to the Outside World
  • No Professional Hierarchy
  • Group Leader Usually have a Powerful Personality - Charismatic Leader
  • Exclusive Terms of Membership
  • Does not Offer Automatic Recruitment
  • Requires Total Commitment
  • Is Opposed the State and Wider Society
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Typologies - Sects (Part Two)

Types of Sects:

  • Consersionist - 'The world is evil and needs to be saved by converting people to the 'true path' - for example The Nation of Islam'
  • Revolutionist - Forsee the end of the world or a second coming. These are often referred to as 'Milenarian Movements' or 'Adventists' - for exmaple Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists
  • Introversionists - Withdraw from society, usually form separate societies - for example Amish, Moonies
  • Manipulationist - Often a set of teachings or rituals for success in life (like cults) - for example Kabbaloh
  • Thaumaturgical - Offer 'Miracles' or 'Magical Healing' from magical sources - for example Necromancy, Astrology
  • Reformist - Desire change in society but not necessarily revolutionary - for example Quarkeris

Sect Examples - Branch Divians - 26 died ater FBI raid. The Emisson of Divne Light - Long Lived Sect. Follow ontology and spreads through universities and has since spread across the world.

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Typologies - New Age Movements (Part One)

Typologies Timeline

  • Stage One - 1920's / 1930's - religons grouped as either a church, denominations, sect and cults
  • Stage Two - more modern sects / cults didn't fit the above - New Religious Movements, World-Affirming / Accommodation / Rejecting
  • Stage Three - New age Movements - Usef for the popular ideas from 1980's onwards. NAM appealed to people not attracted to spirituality offered by conventual organisations and spread ideas through media, seminars, shops etc

Church / Denominations vs, NAMs / Modern Cult Types

  • Churches see salvation as coming from external god where as NAM's see salvation as coming from within one's spiritual self
  • Churches use god-given holy texts whereas NAMs use a variety of sources
  • Churches have set rutials, NAMs use informal groups
  • Churches have a central organisation, NAMs have a causal organisation
  • Churches have followers led by stong leaders and NAMs have a 'Social Network'
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Typologies - New Age Movements (Part Two)

Bruce Idntifies 5 features of New Age Movements

  • Focus in freeing / finding 'inner self' = 'divne' / spiritual pursuit
  • Everything is connected, 'holistic' - mind, body, spirit, phyiscal environment
  • Your individual truth is what counts - the self is the authority - if its true to you then its all that matters - detraditionalisation - rejection of experts, postmodern
  • Global Caferteria - mix any combinations of religions, belief, therapies as you see fit/ customise - blend of western and eastern beliefs
  • Therapy - purpose of beliefs / practise - make you more successful, healthier and happier

New Age Sources

  • Hunduism, Taosim - lot of Eastern influences
  • Spritialism
  • Channeling - communication of spirit energy
  • Mysticism - Astrology - method of divination, ways of telling the future
  • Healong - with crystals, Feng Shui
  • Holistic Healthing, Neo Pagansim, Holistic Health and Gnosticism
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Typologies - New Age Movements (Part Three)

New Age Variaitons - Heelas

  • World affirming - how to get the best of the outer world - for example in business
  • World rejecting - how to achieve spirituality via the inner world and turning away for worldy success

Appeal of The New Age

  • Science and material world haven't 'delivered the goods' in the late 20th Century - things got worse, Drance
  • Modern science failed - holocaust, nuclear, ozone 
  • Modern / traditonal churches don't meet all needs, many still patriachal / homophobic
  • NAM offer post-modern solution
  • NAM appeal to university educated middle class - expressive profession

There isn't a new age movement - Not organisd enough / too little comitment - range of client / audience cults

Evaluation: Bruce, Heelas - Late Modernity not Post - not relevant to Southern Hemisphere

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Typologies - Introducing NRMs (Part One)

New Religious Movements were introduced by Eileen Barker 1984 for 2 main reasons:

  • Stigma - media / public using 'sect' and 'cult' as 'insult' for 'usual' religions - not sociological
  • Genuine Confusion - sects and cults can share common features and even sociologists disagree about which type best fits some religions - for example some see Scientology as a sect, others see it as a cult


  • Monopolisitc View on Religious Truth
  • Charismatic Leader, Relatively Unrestricted and Small in Size
  • Membership - Socially Narrow - One Particular Age, Education, Gender, Self Selecting and First Generational - High Turnover
  • Relations with Wider Society - this varies, thers less positive 'them and us' divide - world rejecting. May have an 'end of the world' / millennial focus. Society may be hostile to NRM, however some might be world accepting / affirming / accommodating
  • Evolution - Short Lived - World Rejecting Types
  • Younger Members - Leader dies and Group Ends
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Typologies - Introducing NRMs (Part Two)

NRM was designed to be used for any religion that clearly isn't a church or denomination. 'New; - designed to be useful for relgions emerging after World War 2. NRMs are concerned with spiritualtiy and the supernatural, asking questions such as why am i here? Is there life after death. NRMs are vert broad and diverse.

Wallis Refined Barker's Ideas into 3 Type NRMs

World Affirming 

  • Most positive view of wider society and they dont ask members to leave to world.
  • Followers tend to live conventiona lifestyles and there is a loose organisation essentially like a cult type.
  • They claim to help you unlock your spiritual potential.
  • The world is one of opportunity and the group can help you be more successful. Most likely to be tolerant.There tends to be expensive training programes to help you improve your potential within existing society. For Example - Scientology, Transcendental Meditaiton. Attracts older members seeking techniquies to improve happiness anf increase wealth - Heelas calls them cults for captialism
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Typologies - Introducing NRMs (Part Three)

World Rejecting:

  • Least accpeting of society - typically hostile to wider society and receive hostility in return
  • Have 'sect' type characteristics
  • Members required to reject the worls and its ills
  • Cut off former ties - relatives, friends, co-workers
  • Live in communities - give over your assets / £ > live an ascetic / simple life
  • Charismatic leaders - some demand uncritcal obedience 
  • Membership is relatively small
  • Media moral panics about brianwashing are commo
  • Examples - Unification Church, Moonies, Hare Krishna (Non Killer), Heaven's Gate (Suicide), Peoples Temple, Solar Temple, Branch Davidians (Killer) 
  • World rejecting attraction for younger memebers - Adolescents and young adults are targeted. They offer some certainty at an otherwise uncertain time and their radical beliefs appeal to the young. Finally, theres a rapid turnover of members as a result of reliance on young.
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Typologies - Introducing NRMs (Part Four)

World Accomodating

  • Also positive about wider society, live and work within society, but are also willing / more likely to be critical of it
  • Stress the personal side of religious belief/ practise
  • Stress a more highly personalised view of religion
  • Typically wihte middle class, conventional lifestyle
  • Want to 'rediscover' their spirituality
  • Exists on the margins of established churches
  • Often offshoots of a denomination
  • E.g. "Born again Christian" groups; neo - pentecostalism involving 'speaking in tongues', faith healing, exorcism

Wallis notes that most NRMs won't purely be one type and there are hybrids, combining ideas of their own with others

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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part One)

Joining for Pratcial / Pragmatic Reasons

Offering You the 'Keys to Success' - self development and improvement ('self religions'). New Age Movements who are 'world affirming' sell techniques and therapy to unlock 'inner spirituality' to get a more success life and more balance. (Eample - Scientology). This appeals to older people seeking to improve themselves and those within the middle class, as you often have to pay to get 'success techniques'. Heelas calls them cults fo capitalism

Providing a Place to Escape to - some people join these groups to get away from there problems, for example from the family, workplace and personal circumstances. These people often join 'world rejecting NRMs' for example the Peoples Temple and Branch Davidians. Barker suggests that the 'Moonies' offered an alternative family, giving comfort and support. World rejecting types also provide security such as food, clothing, place to live. The peoples Temple done this an visited prisions

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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Two)

Joining because You Feel Socially Deprived / Marginalised

  • These people are on the 'edge of society', they're not fully intergrated and left out.
  • There are two types of marginalisation. The first is through poverty. Where people suffer poverty, homelessness, unemployment, racism, being 'in trouble', drugs, person / family problems - Wilson.
  • The second is experiences by the young middle class, who are 'drop outs'. They reject parents expectations by using drugs - Wallis
  • World rejecting NRMs and sect types appeal to marginalised as they offer explantions as to why deprivation has happened - 'Theodicies of Disprivilege' Weber. World rejecting NRMs often suggests that deprivation are tests from gods, a test of faith to be endured
  • These NRMs often offer coping strategies and these people obe and live the groups specific religious lifestyle 
  • 'Compenstated when saved' - Stark and Bainbridge
  • Weber - sects help you overcome disprivilege and help you feel special - one of the chosen few
  • NRM 'Nation of Islam' 
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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Three)

Joining because you feel relatively deprived 

  • Many NRMs have middle class members, for example - Christian New Right in USA who are clearly not economically deprived
  • But, adult middle class can feel relative deprivation as they have a job and education, but relative to other people you feel ‘spiritually deprived’ – Wallis
  • >Join NRM fill spirituality gap

Joining because you’re attracted to strong beliefs

  • church types can be less appealing if they have watered down their beliefs, for example accepting evolution over creationism (modern Christian churches do this to stay attractive to people who accept science fact)
  • Some NRMs maintain ‘********’ beliefs, which could explain the growth of Fundamentalist NRMs for eample Christian New Right 
  • Desire for ‘strong beliefs’ is a response to / challenge to view of the declining importance of religion - Secularisation
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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Four)

Joining because You Feel Status Frustration

  • Low status - many join because the have a low status withing society, for example they're young, elderly, women or an ethnic minority. They tend to join groups that don't reinforce the lower status. For example The Peoples Temple had a lots of black, female members in the hierarchy and the general membership
  • Women are attracted to organsisation that celebrate female power ans spirituality, for example the NAMs of Wicca, Earth Goddess both celebrate female power
  • Young people are attracted to groups where the young have to voice. There's valued roles and tasks and they're often treated like adults. Often they choose sects or cults in an effort to to rebel against parents

Joining because of a charismatic leader - This applies to sect types and world rejecting NRMs. Theres an apparent strong, loving leader who often portray themselves as superior beings. For example Koresh, Jim Jones and Sun Myung Moon - 'Christ like'. Many people become flatter by attention from the leader, using his status as a honey trap for female members - easy target for sex

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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Five)

Joining Encouraged by Globalisation and the Mass Media

  • Globalisation - shrinking of the planet, 'word village' due to fast communication. For example the internet allows for people to shop around religions, combining elements to fit indivdual needs. Post modern socirty has encouraged 'spiritual shoppers' in a religious supermarket. NAM's are particularly good at supportinf individuality

Join because You Need Security to Cope with Rapid Social Change - Wilson

  • War and diaster creates uncertainty and insecurity, Durkhiem calls this 'anomie'. Wilson would say that sects and sect type NRMs grow rapidly in uncertain times. Sects claims have the monopoly of religious truth to help you cope with uncertianty ans change - for example the plague in the Middle Ages increased sect membership. Also industrialisation and rapid lifestyle changes increased membership to the Methodist church in the UK. Finally, Japans defeat in World War 2 anf the end of emperor worship lead to a spiritual vaccum which was filled with rapid cult and sect expansion - for example Aum Supreme truth found in 1984
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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Five)

Joining Encouraged by Globalisation and the Mass Media

  • Globalisation - shrinking of the planet, 'word village' due to fast communication. For example the internet allows for people to shop around religions, combining elements to fit indivdual needs. Post modern socirty has encouraged 'spiritual shoppers' in a religious supermarket. NAM's are particularly good at supportinf individuality

Join because You Need Security to Cope with Rapid Social Change - Wilson

  • War and diaster creates uncertainty and insecurity, Durkhiem calls this 'anomie'. Wilson would say that sects and sect type NRMs grow rapidly in uncertain times. Sects claims have the monopoly of religious truth to help you cope with uncertianty ans change - for example the plague in the Middle Ages increased sect membership. Also industrialisation and rapid lifestyle changes increased membership to the Methodist church in the UK. Finally, Japans defeat in World War 2 anf the end of emperor worship lead to a spiritual vaccum which was filled with rapid cult and sect expansion - for example Aum Supreme truth found in 1984
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Typologies - Why Do People Join (Part Six)

Joining a New Organisation as a Form of Protest

  • Glock and Stark look at how world rejecting NRMs / sect types are willing to be critical of wider society. They appeal to people want to protest in some way - for example 'Nation of Islam in the USA attracted black people who were discriminated against by white people


  • Some sects and NRMs attract successful people - Jehovah's Witnesses in the UK are mainly upper working class or lower middle class, hardly deprived - Beckford. Also the Moonies recruite the educated middle class - Barker
  • 16% of NRMs in 1900s USA were formed in a period of social stability in the 1950s - Stark and Bainbridge
  • Postmodernists have been criticised by other sociologists for over-stating the idea of the individual as a spiritual shopper
  • Bruce claims that social class, gender and ethnicity are still important influences on spirituality, not just individualism or being a religious shopper
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Typologies - Dynamic etc. (Part One)

Churches - long lived and develop internal splits - groups break away into sects or denominaiton

Denomination - Denominations evolve / break away from parent church and form their own interpretations of the religion, or a successful sect becomes a denomination over time

Sects as Short Lived

  • Declining Strength of Beliefs -  younger members /2nd generation have less belief / interest than their parents, Niebuhr. Heavy commitment wanted by sects [and world rejecting NRMs] looses its appeal, Barker
  • Loss of Charismatic Leader - (Niebuhr)  Sects and world rejecting NRMs founded on single leader tend to fail when leader dies for example the Peoples Temple
  • Changing Social Circumstances - original poverty, marginalisation and personal loneliness no longer applies therefore no need to stay 
  • Sects Becomes a Denomination - (Niebuhr, Barker) sects success leads tho sects decline. They become more socially acceptable (become denomination)
  • Religious Diversity in Post-Modern Society -high expectation of personalised choice - spiritual shoppers in global caffeteria - short lived
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Typologies - Dynamic etc. (Part Two)

Sect that are Long Lived 

  • Aldridge - not all sects depned on a charismatic leader. Some sects do get second generation and beyond and are kept alive by members children joining and conversion. Even sects with strict rules and a willingness to expel still continue
  • Being Long Lived a.k.a Being an Institutionalised Sect - they are socially accepted or not a threat to society. These may have sevral denomination type features but also have som clearly sect type features. Yinger - institutionalised sects don't evolve because they isolate themselves from wider society
  • Wilson - Introversionist and Adventist Sects stay as sects. Introversionist sects believe the only way to be saved is to cut yourselt from society. They dont convert people as that would involve social contact. These remain a sect. Adventist sects believe in the second coming and the advent of christ is a core belief and its to come soon. They beleive the ungodly world would be destroyed and only the sect would be saved. Their set focus is to prepare for the day of judgement by seperating themselves from today's corrupt society. They don't covert a large number of people.
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Typologies - Dynamic etc. (Part Three)

Evolitionary Developments in NRMs and NAMs

  • Some world rejecting NRMs evove to become world accomodating
  • Wallis 1985 - world rejecting NRMs can relax their rejecting attitude and relax the isoloationist attitudes

World Affirming NAMs

  • Usually similat to cults
  • Continued successful sale of services if they are a client cult
  • keep members interested if audience cult
  • have flexiablity to adapt themselves to changing client needs
  • Example - the Human Potential Movement 
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Typologies - Dynamic etc. (Part Four)

Stark and Bainbridge - 4 models or circumstances that create new religions

  • Psycophathic Need - someone's experience of severe stress leads them to create the religion as a place of self therapy or self medication. For example negative childhood experiences of world rejecting NRM leaders and how they gain pleasure from the leadership
  • Founders of New Religions Act as Entrepreneurs - developing new products (religions) to sell to consumers. For example client cults or NAMs such as Scientology
  • Social Implosion - 'you spend most of your time with only a few people' - so you cut off from the rest of society. Main focus is now relgious worship
  • What was Previously Seen as Ordinary is Now Seen as Supernatural - the religion forms around this
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 1)

Where do These Religious Organisation Typologies Come From?


  • Early contributers introduced the differences between the Church and the Sect - Weber in 1920's and Troletsch 1931. Neibuhr introduced the Denomination typology in 1925 and Troletsch intorduced the Cult typology on 1931

Post Modern

  • New Religious Movements (NRM's) introduced by Barker and Wallis in 1984. Heelas introduced New Age Movements in 1996 (other contributers include Bruce and Stark and Bainbridge)
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 2)

Evaluation of the Church Typology


  • useful for describing the organisation of very historucal or early Christianity - Bruce
  • Can be applied to other big world religions like Islam


  • Less useful if the church splits - Bruce
  • Less useful fot describing some world faiths such as Hinduism
  • The membership figures are technically unknown as its difficult to mesaure active members
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 3)

Evaluation of the Denomination Typology


  • reflects the reality of splits in some religious organisations
  • Shows a connection between sects and denominations for example Christian Methodism
  • Reflects reality of religious pluralism


  • Blurs the boundary between church and sect - Stark and Bainbridge - for example some researchers refer to the Anglican Church as a church, others as a denomination of christianity
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 4)

Evaluation of the Sect Typology


  • When Troletsch introduced sect in the 30's to balance against the church, which fitter the experience og relgion in Europe at time


  • In more modern times the original typology doesn;t reflect the way sects have diversified over time
  • Sect along with cult have been misguided and stigmatised by the media for any organisation seen as a social problem, which resulted in the use of new typologies - NRMs and NAMs
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 5)

Evaluation of the Cult Typology


  • This typology is needed for all those religious organisations that are in some way dealing with sprituality that doesn't involve mainstream religion
  • Variety of cult types are used - audience, clien anf movement


  • The large scale of cult variety makes it difficult to research their organisation and be sure they are in the correct typology. For example so classify scientology as a cult but others as a sect
  • Cult term often misused
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 6)

Evaluating the NRM Typologies


  • Introduction NRMs allows for modern developments.
  • Simplifies religious groups into world affirming / accommodating versus world rejecting
  • Realistic – idea doesn’t claim to cover every organisations. They recognise than a group can be part world accommodating and rejecting at the same time 


  • Beckford 1985 – world rejecting category is contradictory. How can you reject the world but be alive in the world at the same time. Separation from the world, might be a more accurate emphasis.
  • Beckford thinks Wallis doesn’t pay enough attention to the diversity of views with a given NRM / cult / sect.
  • Some of the NRMs are not so new anymore.
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Typologies - Evaluation of Typologies (Part 7)

Conclusion - Rejecting of all the above typologies by Stark and Bainbridge

  • Using lists of 'characteristics' hierarchy, worship style makes comparison difficult as there is too much varierty
  • Better to use one characteristics in order to make a clear comparison for example just focus on heirarchy or worship or state relations
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Defining Relgion (Part One)

What is the big picture? - There are various definitions of relgion, however, no one definition suites the best. These different definitions are need th show the variety.

Durkhiem's Defining Proces - Durkhiem defined relgion by looking at what people of the group saw as sacred or profane, sacred as in religous and profane as in non-relgious. Durkhiem had an inclusive view of what could count as sacred including the supernatural

Defining Religion by its Functions:

  • Relgion fuctions to create a sense of group belonging through collect / shared worship such as rituals
  • Relgion practices sacrfice and commitment through things such as fasting and pilgrimages
  • Relgion fuctions th praise things you hold in tight regard through singing hymns and chanting
  • if these fuctions operate together than that is what a religion is
  • This definition is useful because it is incluse therefore easy to make criteria
  • However it is weak because almost anything can count as a relgion such as Football
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Defining Relgion (Part Two)

Defining Relgion by its Substance - What it believes in and its ideas

  • To count something as a relgion your belieg much include the belief of a divine being or something supernatural. Those who don't beleive in a divine being aren't relgions
  • This defintion is useful for religions with gods or goddesses such as 'Abrahamic relgions' and even things such as 'Paganism'. Most people take this view - Bruce, Berger
  • This definition is weak because it excudes the view of people who thing anything can be sacred, for example the view that the divine is in you

Social Action Theories Would Argue that Relgion is a Social Construct

  • They use verstenhen to see through the eyes of those they research are ethnographic therefore research on a small scale
  • If someone sees something as relgious then it is, dosen't matter if others disagree - for example Scientology is religous to its followers be U.K. and France don't recognise it as one
  • The social construct view argues that there cant just be one definiton of relgion as people see this differently
  • Each person has their own definition of what is religous or not
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Defining Relgion (Part Three)

Conclusion: No one definition is better or worse than the other. The functionalist definition produces conflicting fuctions of the relgion and the Substance definition doesn't deal with splits in belief within the same relgion

What About Magic and Superstition?

  • Magic - belief that you can use supernatural forces to get what you want throught thing such as spells - not seen as religous. However but adding in 'goddess / mother earth worship to magic creates Wicca which is seen as relgious
  • Superstition - belief in supernatural forces for good and evil but doesn't involved relgious worship for example turning away from a black cat
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (1)

Introduction; Feminists look at partiarchy and how in soceity males dominated all forms of power and women are exploited. Feminists focus on religion as a form of socialisation supporting the ideology and naturalness of male power. This is achieved by relgious ides that control and limit women in various ways for example controlling sexuality, blocking access to religious power and promoting limited roles fo women.

Inferiority of Women in Society is Reproduced in their Role in Religion

  • Simone de Beauvoir 1953 argues that religion legitimates inequality. De Beauvoir argues that religion compensates for their second class status
  • Nawal El Saadawi 1980 is a muslim feminist, arguing how arabic islam oppresses womne but islam elsewhere isn't as patriarchal
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (2)

Feminist Differences about Religion

  • Liberal Feminists like to focus on improving womens equality within religion
  • Radical feminists focus on showing how religion benefits men. The also focus on recapturing the central role of women in religion from the past
  • Marxist feminists focus on religion as ideological control and the 'opium of the people', compensating working class womne for the double exploitation as workers and women. Religion tricks working class women into not challenging exploitation

Patriachy in the Emphasis on Male Gods - over the past 4,000 years there has been a decline in goddess worship. The fertile mother goddess used to be revered and polytheism existed for example the Hindu fertility goddess Devi. However polytheism gave way to monotheism and the on-god was now invariably male.

Partiarchy by Keeping Women Away from the Power Positions in the Religion - Events in many religion remain male dominated for example the Judaic Old Testaments prophets are all male, Jesus had 12 male disiples, women always play a supporting role

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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (3)

Patriarchy in Religious Teachings Reinforce the Social Inferiority of Woman and Limited Lifestyles:

  • Woman are often potrayed as evil within relgious teachings, for example in the Old Testament, Eve tempted Adam with the Apple and in the New Testament, Mary Magdalen, the prostitute.
  • Women are often portrayed as haivng the nurturing roles for example Mary mother of Jesus and the now reformed Mary Magdalen staying with Jesus after his dealth

Pariarchy and the Control of Women's Sexuality:

  • In many relgious groups they practise separate prayer. In Orthodox Jadaism and Islam, female menstruation is seen as polluting.
  • Many religions require women to cover their hair and bodies.
  • In Roman Catholic Christianity priests are required to remain celibate and every sperm is sacred therefore they are anti-contraception.
  • Islam and Orthodox Judaism state that sex is fo reproduction, not recreation
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (4)

Partriarchy when Religion Influences Family Life in a way that Limit Women:


  • 'all wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a women
  • 'he is in the glory of god, but woman in the glory of men'
  • Wives be subject to your husband, for husband is the head of the wife'


  • 'men are in charge of women, hence why good women are obeidience'
  • Aldridge 2007 - Qu'ran women are legally inferior to men

Barret and Pryce 1979 looked ar Rastafarianism and how gendered female roles are believed to protect women from white discrimination (aslo - fundamentalism of any rellgion aslo has gendered roles)

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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (5)

Evaluation Feninism


  • Feinist Views are Selective, Religion isn't Always Patriarchal - In previous times, there was goddess worship and current pagan and Wicca religions have goddesses
  • Some Religions Clearly Practise Gender Equality - For example Quakers, Unitarianism, Baha'i faith and some Spritualist movements
  • Gender netural language exists in many modern Chrisitian hymns and prayers
  • Removal of Patriarchal Practises - a wife obeying in marriage vows is now optional in the Church of England faith
  • Church of England, Progressive Judaism and Buddism - "0% of vicars in the UK are female, around 400 female rabbis in 1997 amd female monks in some places of East Asia, Thailand and the Northern Hemisphere
  • Debate Over Islamic Dress Code - Some see the islamic dress code as 'patriachal' and controling, however some islamic women see it as positive as it stops harrasment and sexual stares. It also allows them to make a concious choice to get out the house and gain education
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Feminists (6)

Evaluation Feminism


  • Huge amounts of historical and modern cross cultural evidence supports the Feminist view that relgion supports and promotes patriarchy
  • Sikhism - women can only sing hymns and carry the holy book
  • Islam - woman can lead 'women only' prayer meetings. There is also segregated worship. In Pakistan relgion has no impact on th high rates of female infanticide
  • Hinduism - historiacal female priests exist in sacred texts however this is less so today. Also there is a low status for women in India today
  • Orthodox Judaism - no women rabbis and there is segregated worship
  • Any Fundamentalist style of religion would put men it a superior position 
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Functionalism

Durkheim - Religion Functions to Help Maintain Social Concensus

  • Concensus - being in a state of agreement with other people. It is usd in a wide sense to get across the ideas that the norms in society are agreed upon by its members. This in turn creates social solidarity, stability, harmony and minimises dysfunction
  • Relgion Supports Concensus by Bringing People Together for Shared Experiences - this helps to promote social solidarity. Shaed religious experiences provide the social cement for group unity and consensus. By feeling a member of a group individuals avoid the feeling of anomie, a potentially destructive detatchment from society. Relgious ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms and funerals are the most likely way to bring people together and encourage social stability
  • Religion Supports Consensus by Acting as a Form of Socialisation and Social Control - Religion helps reinforce and maintain the do's and don'ts in society. For example this is encouraged through the christian 10 commandments amd through islam's 5 pillars
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Functionalism

Durkhiem continued:

  • Religion Supports Consensus by Reinforcing Shared Thinking / Collective Consciousness - especially when religion is automatically associated with a particular country. For example in England, the national relgion is Church of England christianity
  • Religion Supports Consesus by Reinforcing the Wider Cultural Heritage of the Society - from one generation to the next. For example through different style of dress, food and art
  • ReligionSupports Consensus by Offering Emotional Support to Individual - during times of stress and at important stages in life cycle. Religion functions to give meaning and purpose. For example when thee is a marriage, divorce, death or wanting an abortion
  • Relgion Continues in the Industrual World due to the Cult of Man - Durkhiems sees modern society as becoming more secular in terms of traditional religion. However a new set of values are becoming so important they could be seen as sacred. This is because there is high value placed on the individual . He calls this new religion the cult of man as individuals have great importances within society.
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Functionalism

Neo-Functionalist Views on How Religion Functions to Help Society / Consensus - 3 Neo-Functionalists: Bellah, Malinowski and Parsons

Malinowski - Religion Helps Society by Helping the Individual

  • Relgion helps the individual deal with emotional stress and times of anxiety and social crises. These 'life-crisises' could potentially disrupt the consensus in society, individuals become stressed then become detatched from societies norms / anomie. He formed these ideas after researching the Trobriand Islanders. Happy individuals ultimately leads to a happy society, it supports overall consensus
  • Births - for example worrying about how they are gonna look after thechild, religion offers support by reinforcing gendered roles and providing guidlines
  • Puberty - Jewish tradition celebrating adulthood
  • Marriage - Joining under gods eye
  • Death - Funerals celebrate the life they lived
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Functionalism

Parsons - Religion Promotes Social Stability by Reinforcing the Wider Norms and Values of Society by Helping People Find the Answers and Meanings

  • Premature death - 'God has a plan for them in heaven, wahts to make the an angel'
  • Inequality - 'In heaven you will find glory' - deferred gratification
  • Natural Disaster - Mother nature

Bellah - Traditional Religions Have Declined but 'Faith in Our Society' still continues via 'Civl Religion'

  • National Symbols - Flags, Pictures of the Queen
  • National Prayers
  • National Hymns - 'God save our Queen (King)'
  • National Rituals - Watching the Queen's Speech at Chirstmas
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Functionalism

Evalutation of the Functionalist View of Religion


  • Durkheim's work is accepted as a positive contribution as he showed the inadequacies of early narrower or exclusive definitions of religion. Durkheim also shows how coming together to take part in shared worship cintributes to overall social intergration. The work of Parsons, showind how relgin can help the inidvidual, minimises the usual criticism that it tends to ignore the individuals. Conterbalances conflict theories such as Marxism and Feminism


  • Limited research population - Both Durkhiem and Malinowski used small tribal societies so it ca't be assumed that their findings apply to the large industrial societies. Bellah aslo used the USA as an example. You can argue that Durkhiem definition of religion was so broad that virtually anything vould be classed as a religion. Functionalism ignores the relationship between relgion and conflict.
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Marxism (Neo)

Marx Didn't Believe in the Supernatural

  • He was atheist and beleive that mankind invented religion as a way of explainig things, coping - ideological reasons
  • 1844 - man makes relgion, religion doesn't make man'
  • Relgion Acts as a Drug - 'opium of the masses' - the subject class are tricted into focusing on 'heaven' / happiness in the next world and not this which reduces the challenge to the ruling class. Religion helps cope with lact of fufilment, control and satisfaction over your own life / alienation. Relgion also prevents the subject class from changing exploitation
  • Religion Legitimates Inequality - relgion reinforces the idea of rulers and subjects to make it seem natural, 'the rich man has his castle to poor man has his gate'. Challenging this existing social arrangement is seen as challenging god. Religion blocks social control
  • Religion Encourages Mystification - the supernatural aspect of relgion, the prayers and rituals acts as a smokescreen. The mystery reinforces the specialness of religion
  • Relgion Reinforces the Connection Between Political and Economic Power
  • Relgion Would Disappear - as working class see exploitation and move to communism
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Marxism (Neo)

Evaluation: Plus

  • Marxism shows how the ruling class/ economic power benefits from support of relgion / superstructure. Also shows how relgion source control / i.c device. There is historical and contempory evidence to support. Conterbalances Functionalist view that religion promtes collect consciousness and concensus. Finally as a macro theory it counterbalances micro theory

Evaluation: Minus

  • Marxists place too much emphasis on the power of the economy to control people / economic determinism. One arguement is that opium only works if you take it, those who don't follow religion, religion doesn't have control. Sometimes religion does help the subject class and can encourage social change. Also religion hasn't truely dissapeared and functionalists would argue that marxism ignores most of the positivist aspects of relgion. Femnists would argue that it forgets to look at patriarchy and religion and micro sociologists would argue it ignores the power of the indivduals
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Marxism (Neo)

Neo-Marxist View of Religion

  • Marxist - still see the ruling class trying gain expense of subject class / exploitation
  • Neo - 'new' looks at modern time economic power over the superstructure forexample relgion doesn't always happen
  • Neo-Marxism see religion sometimes supporting the needs of the working class - liberation theology
  • Also religion can sometimes be a force for social change
  • Maduro looks at South America and how religion supported the subject class against dictatorship government
  • Gramsci looked at how relgion could be used by the working class to help shape / promote their ideas
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Interprevism (1)

Berger and Luckman

  • Religion helps individuals and society as the interpret / work out what things mena
  • Societies have a universe (cosmology) - large amount of potential meanings
  • Relgion helps create a mental map on making choices and interpreting meanings
  • Guidance function helps indivduals reduce stress and anxiety
  • Religion acts as a sacred canopy or a sheild stretching over society protecting from uncertainty and meaningless
  • Sacred canopy - pluasibility structure a way of explaining why things are the way they are - legitimises
  • Relgion can sometimes ne the only source of what things mean / dominates = 'closed societies' for example in medieval Europe
  • Religion can be among several explanationd in 'open societies' - Science, Politics
  • Relgion may lose its significance in providing meaning - secularistation
  • Relgion is no longer the only plausible explanition
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Interprevism (2)

Stark and Bainbridge

  • Religion hels individuals by providing compensation when you don't get what you want out of life
  • Relgion helps individuals by offering the possibility of divne / supernatural intervention on your behalf for example praying you'll win on a lotto tciket
  • Relgion compensates individuals by offering a life after death
  • Compensation is enough to stop decline
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Interprevism (Pa

Evaluation: Plus

  • This view counter balances the lack of emphasis on individuals and how they work out and interpret meanings associated with macro structual theories
  • Stark and Bainbridge show that relgion can help universal / widespread individual needs

Evaluation: Minus

  • ignores where religion has conflict of meanings for example within religions - which truth do you use
  • Stark and Bainbridge compensator idea doesn't take into account how different societies influence what people want out of life - what compensates one may not compensate the other
  • Ignores the possibility that relgion is actually created by dominant groups to help keep them in power - Marxism and Feminists
  • Berger and Luchman ignore anti-secularisation evidence for modern societies - in some places relgions are still thriving - growth of NRMs
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Post Modernist (

Place in Time and Key Contributors

  • Postmodernism it the name for theories present in the late 1900s and 2000s. It is the product of 100 years of industrialisation and is society moving on from tradtition sociology. Key contributors include Bauman, Lyotard and Lyon. Bauman suggests that in modern sociology people look for universal truths where as in post modernism the belief is equal to unlimited choice

Theory of Religion

  • Lyotard calls the modern focus on one big idea is a meta-narrative and he doesn't think meta-narriatives explain society now, society has moved on. Post modernists explain relgion as a combination of choice and diversity. No onr religion can successfullt plan for a perfect society
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Post Modernist (

Ways to God

  • No one relgion has absolute / universal truth ir authority over you. You make your own personal, ethical choices - morality priviatised. People want religious guidance but more choice in range of religion consulted, not just one of childhood socialisation. Also diversity is the social reality of the 1900s ond 2000's. Flight from deference as we have moved away from accepting automatic authority of relgious leaders. People are more willing to constantly monitor social life to improve it - seeking new spiritual experiences - Giddens. Leger states how we expects a more personalised and individual religious choice. People mix aspects of religion that speak to them and create their own internal spiritual world, Relgion is no just another consumer product. People have now become spiritual shoppers, pilgrims on the path of self discovery. Relgious festivals are equal to dedifferentiation
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Post Modernist (

People Manufacture Religion

  • Religion is entirely human made - they make images and ideas of god to give specialness to social relations and events
  • The diversity of religion reflects the diversity if needs of social groups
  • People work to bring about god on earth, they don'r worry about who is god and where is god
  • Theology of the pub is an valid as theology of the priest

Views on the Popularity of Relgion

  • Thy are against secularisation - religion is changing not declining
  • Scientific beliefs are being discredited - for example the arguement for global warming or not, and cancer hasn't been solve, nor has nuclear waste
  • Science is just another meta- narrative that has failed to give us what we want - Post modernist say society is in a state of crisis and vacuum of meaning, Resacrilisation will find the answers
  • Re-enchantment, growth of NRMs and the impact of Feminism
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Post Modernist (


  • Post modernists clain sect / cult numbers have increased as people search for sense of identity based around what they consume
  • Post modernists see older sources of identity such as class, gender and ethnicity as having less impact
  • But Sect and Cults are short lived
  • Davie - Privatisation - believing but not belonging
  • Vicarious religion - smaller number of relgious leadera run religion on behalf of greater number of people - internet and mega-churches
  • Fundamentalisn - Globalisation
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Sociological Theory of Religion - Post Modernist (


  • Internet and electronic church and travel creates greater consumer choice including choice of gods, Lyon - people don't go to church so take church to people
  • Globalisation diversified relgion for example the growth in Pentecostalism in south America
  • Fundamentalism responce to detraditionalisation and the backlash against this
  • Clask of civilisations and use of relgion as cultural defence


  • Plus: Shows weaknesses of modern theories and introduces new areas of research
  • Minus - Bauman exaggerates changes in religion, relgion has been continuously important throughtout history (Beckford). Post modernists over exaggerate resacrilisation and the increase in relgiousity. Weak relgions don't compensate for secularisation of the church type. Post modernists have emphasised the increase of choice but th poor don't have choice. Post modernist criticise meta narratives but they can be argued to have one
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Religion and Social Change (Part One)

  • Religion is a Conservative Force - religion maintains the status quo and prevents social change. Religion reinforces traditional norms, values and beliefs
  • This View is Supported by - Functionalists, Marxists and Feminists
  • This View is Refuted by - Neo-Marxists, Weber
  • Functionalists Have a Positive View of the Conservative Role of Relgion - religion helps to maintain order (Satus Quo) therefore helps to maintain society through the reinforcement of norms, values and beliefs. Relgion reinforces the collective conscience, helping people through stressful situations and preventing disruption. Howver this is criticised - is relgion realy functional, does collective conscience exist, religion causes conflict (Malinowski Study)
  • Marxists Have a Negative View of the Conservative Role of Religion - religion helps to maintain capitalist society, reinforcing the norms, values and beliefs that benefit the ruling class. Produces false clas consciousness - Caste System Slaves - But Secularisation
  • Feminists Have a Negative View of the Conservative Role of Religion - religion helps to maintain patriarchal societym reinforcing traditional norms, values and beliefs regarding the role of women in society. Prevents women from gaining authority. Taught to obey women for example in Islam - women ceiled. However - veil wearing not oppression (Watson) Women now have opportunities withing the Church of England
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Relgion and Social Change (Part Two)

  • Religion as an initiator of Social Change - opposing the view that religion operates as a Conservative force, is the idea that relgion can bring about social change. This view is supported by Neo-Marxists and the work of Weber
  • Neo-Marxists - Maduro and Gramsci argue that religion does not always operate in the interests of the ruling class. Relgion can be used as a means of liberation for the poor. Religion can aid social change for example Liberation Theology / Methodism
  • Weber Examined the Religion of Calvinism - Calvinists followed the idea of chosen elect, resulting in its folllowers developing salvation anxiety. To cope with this and to receive signs they were part of the elect, the worked hard and reinvested money. Reinvestment resulted in the development of businesses - Capitalism. Wever claims this was not the only cause of capitalism but a significant one
  • Evaluation of Weber -Weber does recognises that there is a relationship between the econly and relgion (less deterministic). However, Weber overstates the ide that Capitalism was the result of Calvinsim.Places with strong Calvinst populations did not industrialise. Kautsky 'Capitalism precedes Calvinsim
  • Evidence to Suport this idea - Liberation Theology, Martin Luther King, Archbishop Tutp, Iranian Revolution - see Fundalmentalsim
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Relgion and Social Change (Part Three)

  • The Iranian  Revolution is an example of relgion bringing about social change, however it also involved the reinforcement of traditional norms, values and beliefs. Therefore is an example of conservative change, often associated with religious fundamentalism. The wider revolution established rule of the wider society by religious leaders
  • Factors that Shape the Power of Religion to Cause Change - MacGuire claims that the following factors are important - Beliefs, Culture, Social Location and Internal Organisation
  • Religion as a Conservative Force versus Religion as an Initator of Social Change - the arguments discussed show that there is a clear relationship between relgion and social change. There is however much debate as to whether change is prevented or promoted through religion
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Religion and Secularisation (Part One)

Secularisation is Seen as the Decling Influence of Relgion in Wider Society

  • Loss of Influence- disengagement, historical church power rivaled any King, acting as forces to judge, punish, employer, educste, control medicine. Howeverm compared to today there is minimal church power, only the employer role remains. Relgion is now used less as people seek help from various sources for example the state and charities, meaning you can avoid relgion altogether if you want. Also competeing cultural beliefs in open societies makes it hard for religion to dominate, for eample the consevative government in the 1980's ignored the Church of England, anti povery and anti nuclear views.Also media in the northern hemisphere has said too over took the church unfluence
  • Loss of Church Power - Religion hasn't lost power rather changed focus and function, becoming more specialised. Relgion is still a source of moral guidance, ethics, values. This change does not automatically mean secularisation. Relgion is still influential, for example the rise of fundalmental islam in Iran, fundalmental christianity in the USA. The close contact of relgion with politics means that religion becomes deprivatised - more publicly active but its not secularisation
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Religion and Secularisation (Part Two)

Secularisation is Seen as the Decling Influence of Relgion in Wider Society

  • Loss of Influence- disengagement, historical church power rivaled any King, acting as forces to judge, punish, employer, educste, control medicine. Howeverm compared to today there is minimal church power, only the employer role remains. Relgion is now used less as people seek help from various sources for example the state and charities, meaning you can avoid relgion altogether if you want. Also competeing cultural beliefs in open societies makes it hard for religion to dominate, for eample the consevative government in the 1980's ignored the Church of England, anti povery and anti nuclear views.Also media in the northern hemisphere has said too over took the church unfluence
  • Loss of Church Power - Religion hasn't lost power rather changed focus and function, becoming more specialised. Relgion is still a source of moral guidance, ethics, values. This change does not automatically mean secularisation. Relgion is still influential, for example the rise of fundalmental islam in Iran, fundalmental christianity in the USA. The close contact of relgion with politics means that religion becomes deprivatised - more publicly active but its not secularisation
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Religion and Secularisation (Part Three)

Secularisation Seen as the Decline on Religious Beliefs / Faiths


  • In medieval Europe there was high rated of belief, however in Modern Society the is a decline in the belief in Sin, Soul, Hell, Heaven and the Devil. In modern times theres an increase in aethism, and in surveys people may lie about their relgious beliefs.
  • More people use religion for non-religious purposes for example going to church for a white wedding or to get into a local church school
  • Many religions now play down contraversial beliefs such as virgin birthm ressurection, heaven and hell. They also no longer claim an monopoly of relgious truth
  • People are becoming more disatisfied with religous explanations, mystical and magical aspects no longer appeal due to disenchantment
  • Weber - Rise in Rational Thinking
  • Bruce - Science Undermines Religion
  • Wilson - Men Ignoring Religion More and More
  • Overall result of desacrilisation
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Relgion and Secularisation (Part Four)

Secularisation Seen as the Decline on Religious Beliefs / Faiths


  • Secondary, hisorical sources are difficult to interpret - Martin. 
  • In 2000, 70% of people have some belief, with only 15% rejecting the idea of a 'god' - Bruce
  • Roof and Mckinney - Herberg is our of date. They look at the Christian New Right in USA that have strong beliefs in the ide of creationism. They are anti-divorce, anti-gay and anti-abortion, showing there is no internal secularisation for this group
  • Bruce - even rational people turn to God when in a crises

Bruce Appears on Both Sides of the Debate - He is more for secularisation then against but recognises that religious beliefs are increasing

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Religion and Secularisation (Part Five)

Secularisation Can be Seen in the Increase of NRMs and Ethnic Diversity


  • Increase doesn't usually mean decline, but NRM growth shows the unpopularity of tradition church types, which can be seen as secularisation (Berger). NRMs show small increases but don't make up for big church losses (Bruce). For example Krishna Consciousness is of little impact (Wilson). NAMs such as astrology show individualism rather then collective religion. Ethinc minorities use religion for different purpses than faith e.g. networking, Bruce - low religiosity means secularisation


  • Greely argues that the growth of NRMs shows resacrilisation. NRMs compensate for the playing down / internal secularisation of religion in traditional churchs (Stark and Bainbridge). Cults are popular but churches are weak. In the Uk, Kendal Project found more NRM involvment in one week than the Church. Post-Modernists - NRMs grow as we are critcal of scientific thinking - fail to provide answers
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Religion and Secularisation (Part Six)

Secularisation Seen in the Decline in Relgious Practise, Participation and Attendance


  • In the UK general religion attendance declined between 1851 to 2000. Bruce notes a decline in Baptisms, church marriages and funerals and in the jewish communuty there is a similar decline. There is an issue with the secondary data - inaccurate. Martin argues that in modern times religious status in less important


  • Non Christian attendence doubled for 1975 - 2000. Ethinc churches numbers increas as there is an increase in immigration due to higher birth rates (kids born into religion). Sects, NRMs show clear increase in growth rate - 130% between 1980 - 2001. Attendence is also not the only way to mesure religiousity - Davie, 'believing not belonging'. Relgion is privatised but not declining

Goverment stats overall state a decline in religious membership of 5.5%

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Religion and Social Groups - Age (Part One)


  • Under 15 year olds are often religious as it is part of there early primary socialisation.
  • But often they grow out of their relgious beliefs by the age of 16.
  • In the UK 23% of 16-34 year olds have now religion, compared to only 5% of over 65 year olds.
  •  In the UK, ethinicty makes the difference, for example in Muslim communties there is a very high number of active young people, around 34%.
  • Likewise, the firgure is 21% in the Hundu religion and 25% in the Sikh.
  • This is a feature if immigration, as those with falling youth number are older populations.
  • This is similar in the USA.
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Religion and Social Groups - Age (Part Two)

Why Are the Young Less Religious?

  • The 'Generation Effect' - as society becomes more secular, each generation is less religious - Voas and Crockett - each generation is 50% less religious than their parents
  • Boring - especially mainstream religions because they are repetitive and old fashioned
  • Unattractive Values - mainstream religions may have an intolerance to things such as cohabitation, sex outside marriage, homosexuality and female priests
  • Believe but don't Want to Belong - Davie suggests that the young may be attracted to a more privatised religion
  • Attractive Secular Values - these values act as substitutes for religion, for example politically liberal values of tolerance and freedom of the individual - similar to Bellah
  • Post-Modernism - they may reject the idea of the monopy of truth because its a metanarrative, suggesting theres more than one way if thinking
  • Decline in Religious Education - within secondary school education, religion is watered down and the Christian influence no long remains.
  • Lifestyle Choices / Pragmatism - leisure time is more attractive than religious time, for example working on a Sunday and peer group pressure
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Religion and Social Groups - Age (Part Three)

Young and Type of Religious Organisation

Sect - the young are more likely to join a sect if they're:

  • emotionally upset - seeking substitue family, economically marginalised,
  • easily persuaded by powerful personalities
  • lacking established social ties for example they are un-married

Cult - they're more likely to join a cult if they are:

  • rebellious and into counter-culture - challenging accepted norms
  • want to discover inner spirituality
  • attracted to the expanded spiritual market place
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Religion and Social Groups - Age (Part Four)

Why do the Elderly Move Back into Religion? 

  • Ageing Effect - contentplating mortality and ill health, religion offer spiritual comfort
  • Disengaged from Wider Society - because they are no longer at work their lives become more privatised so they seek religion as a social network
  • Stonger Religios Socialisation - more likely to be religiousy educated through school
  • Welfare Support - religion charitable of the old

Middle Aged and the Elderly and Types of Religious Organisations

  • In genral they are more likely to return to chuch types
  • If poor and lonely may be more likely to join sects
  • Middle aged people if are more well off and seek less religion are more likely to join client cults such as Scientology, Transcendental Meditation
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Religion and Social Groups - Ethnicity (Part One)

Community Identity and Cohesion

  • Functionalism and Durkheim - religion bonds new comunities through tradition ritual. Davie states that the relgious temples act as comunity centres as higher community solidarity equals higher religiousity
  • Cultural Transmission - Bruce looks at how worshiping as a ethinc group re-affirms traditional customs, values and norms while transitioning to a new environment
  • Cultural Defence - Bruce looks at sserting ethnic pride through religion for example in Northen Ireland
  • Renewed Vigour / Socialisation - Chryssides states that immigrant parents assert religion more strongly on children in an effort to maintain traditional culture
  • Helps minorities cope with worries and pressures such as Racism
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Religion and Social Groups - Ethnicity (Part Two)

Social Deprivation, Marginalisation and Status Frustration

  • Immigrants are often poor so experience deprivation
  • Religion offers identity, status and community. For example older asian women may lack the ability to speak English therefore they feel marginalised so seek religion for help
  • Attendence could reinforce social status respectability
  • Religion is used to explain disprivaliage (Weber)
  • Religion providing compensation (Stark and Bainbridge)
  • Immigrants use religion to work out 'meanings' in new countries, providing a plausibility structure helping to make sense of new environments
  • Family Pressures - Extended families have more relatives to keep a focus on religion

Individual Social Identity

  • Customs, rituals, dress, food and festivals help to create a sense of self and provide identity. Johal suggests that code switching occurs where young asians are selective if what aspects od religion they pay attention too. Rise od 'Brasian' (British Asian). Bulter suggests that asian women seperate form the religion to be more independent - Cultural hybridity
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Religion and Social Groups - Ethnicity (Part Three

Rise of Muslim Identity

  • After the 9/11 attacks and the 7th July 2005 London attacks the muslim identity became stigmatised as terrprist
  • Now as a challenge to Islamophobia there is a rise in the young muslim men and women in using their religious beliefs as they're identification marker
  • Mirza suggests that this increase is due to three reasons. Firstly because they reject UK foreign policy as they see it as anti islamic for example the Iraqi War. Likewise, thers young people may lack an identity, so play up there religious beliefs by instead not joing political parties. Finally, there is an influence of extreme voices that demand things like Sharia Law.
  • Empowerment Through Different - Johal suggests that young British asians use religion to set themselves apart - may link to the rise in fundalmentalism
  • Tension and Conflict - racially motivated riots in the North of England and Oldham

However ethnic relgiousity can be weakend with immigration. Apostasy is where immigrants abandon their relgion if the environment is hostile or convert to a accepctable relgion. Or they accomodate to seem more acceptable for example relaxed dress regulations for Islamic women

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Religion and Social Groups - Ethnicity (Part Four)

Evaluation and Conclusion

  • The research doesn’t always look for the religiosity differences between ethnic minority groups
  • Class, gender, age differences need to be explored within each group
  • Functionalist emphasis on the positive aspects of religiosity ignores that devout membership of any faith might reinforce the divide between cultures
  • Over reliance on the ethnic religious community could block assimilation and integration into wider society
  • Clash of values / clash of civilisation, e.g. western concerns about religion promoting patriarchy, arranged / forced marriages 
  • The few ethnic minority fundamentalists fuel negative overall ethnic minority profile in the media
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part One)

Men and Religon

Men tend to have less interest, commitment and attendance to religion. This is the same throught the varying religious types. In the 2001 census 56% of men said they had no relgion


  • Differnetial Socialisation - most men do not have the equivalent career role of a woman. Men are more likely to be in the workplace and have a wider range of social outlooks. This can develop a sense of identity and status without religion
  • Stark - Risk Society - Male lower relgiousity is a form of risk taking behaviour. Men seek more trilling things and immediate gratification. Men are short sighted and don't think head. Men would rather spend time taking drugs and having sex they worry about a god. Stark's research into 57 countries found that these differnences remained even in male centred society. Stark claims that this is the case historically aswell
  • Men don't live as long a women
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Two)

Men and Religon

Men tend to have less interest, commitment and attendance to religion. This is the same throught the varying religious types. In the 2001 census 56% of men said they had no relgion


  • Differnetial Socialisation - most men do not have the equivalent career role of a woman. Men are more likely to be in the workplace and have a wider range of social outlooks. This can develop a sense of identity and status without religion
  • Stark - Risk Society - Male lower relgiousity is a form of risk taking behaviour. Men seek more trilling things and immediate gratification. Men are short sighted and don't think head. Men would rather spend time taking drugs and having sex they worry about a god. Stark's research into 57 countries found that these differnences remained even in male centred society. Stark claims that this is the case historically aswell
  • Men don't live as long a women
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Three)

Explantions for Men who are Religious

  • Men who have the carer role
  • Men who are more submissive, passive and obedient have greater religiousy then men who aren't (Miller and Hoffman)
  • Education - less educated more religious
  • Existential Security Theory - men are often less educated
  • Men use religion more as an identity marker - for some ethnic minority groups such as Islam
  • Easier for men to gain status and power in religious organisations - encourage them to join
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Four)


Gender Patterns in the UK 2001

  • Islam is the Only Religion Men Outnumbers Women - 52% men and 48% women. This is different due to Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups, men slightly outnumber women due to their immigration history. All other relgions groups have the same number of men and women or slightly more women and this can be explained by life expectancy as women live longer of mem in a national trend
  • Men - majority of the 'no religion group' - 56%
  • Female membership is alsi strong in several smaller religions - 2/3 Spiritualism, Wicca 67%, Pagan 54% and Baha'i 53%
  • But in Rastafarianism male numbers is 70% and Zoorastrians 54%
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Five)

Gender and Participation Rates

  • Miller and Hoffman 1995 - Women express greater interest in religion and have stronger commitment. Women attend the church more often and this is same despite the type of religious organisation - church, denomination, cult, sect, New Age

Claims that Women are More Religious than Men - Miller and Hoffman offer three explanations:

  • Different Socialisation Make Women More Religious - Women socialised norms and values are more compatible to religion. For example they are submissive, passive, obedient and more nuturing than males. Religion organisation expect you to accept the authority of th priests obey religious instructions. Submissive and passive men are more likely to be religious
  • Socialisation Creates Different Social Roles for Women Which Supports Their Religiousity - Women participate less in paid work, more time for relgious work. Femals lack the work based identity. The gendered roles fit into that of the roles in religion. Greely sepeculates women is a pre partner staye have a similar religiousity as men. As women have the care role that decide to take care of their religion
  • Women are Less Likely to Take Risks than Men 
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Six)

Challenging the Idea that Women have Different Socialisation to Men, Makes Women More Religious

  • Stark and Miller - reject the notion that women are more religious because they don't work outside the home and have more free time to engage in religious activities. Other research shows career women are just as relgious as those who stay at home and both types of women, carers and career are far more religious that their male peers or spouses

Why are Young Men Less Religious

  • Stark - young men are more willing to take risks by being less religious, this is as a form of risk taking. Men are more thrill seeking and seek immediate gratification for example men are less concerned about the nature of having a soul. Mem relatively low religiosity seen across history for example in ancient Greece and Roman Empire when the early Christians were mostly women. Being irreligious is just another way of young men taking risks
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Seven)

Gender and Choice of Religious Organisation


  • Female membership is higher than men. Female to Male membership is around 2:1. Sects target poor economically deprived therefore are more likely to appeal to woment as women are more likely to be in poverty. For example The Peoples Temple. 70% of the People Temple membership were black females, 50 were single mothers and 1/2 of the 300 single members were women. Sects often offer social standing within the organistation which women wouldn't get wider society - Thompson. Glock and Stark argue that women lack power within society and the workplace and experience social deprivation. Sects compensate fo this by offering an active rolw in the sect. Women with mental and physical illness experience organismic deprivation so they join in hope of being healed, for example the healing powers of Jim Jones. Women retreate away from mainstream therefore are ethically deprived. Women who see world in a state of moral decline attracted to world rejecting sects. In the 1800s many sects started by women. Ellen White - Seventh Day Adventist, Mary Barker Eddy - Christian Science
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Religion and Social Groups - Gender (Part Eight)


  • In general two-thirds attenders, both frequent and rare are women. For the (protestant) Anglican Chruch the male - female ratio is aprroximately 50:50

Cults and New Age

  • Women who want high individual, privatised religious activity therefore attracted cults. Women spend a lor of time in the privacy of the home and want a religious organisation that fits with this. Women interested in personal improvement are attracted to cults. NAMs can offer women high status through things such as nature worship, new emphasis on mother earth. NAMs and cults appeal to more middle class women. Middle class women without paid employment join cults to gain self worth. Working class women maintain a job and family, then she has no time to consider their self worth. Cults and NAMs are often world accommodating and affirming.
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Religion and Social Groups - Social Class (Part On

Pattern - Ashworth and Farthing (2007)

  • Churchgoing is associated with people from higher social classes for example professionals and senior management. Least churchgoers are the semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers

Pattern - Brierly (1999)

  • The overall trend of churchgoing is declining. But growth of churchgoing in prosperous areas (9.6%) compared to poorest areas (5.9%)


  • Geographical Mobility - middle class woh move to a new area can fit into the new community by joinig the local church
  • Alienation - working-class people who see growth in the middle class members at their church feel alienated
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Religion and Social Groups - Social Class (Part Tw

Sects and Middle Class

  • Requires members to donate their worldly goods
  • Middle class are more willing to give up their possessions
  • Aum - Targeted the vulnerable business person, academics

Sects and Working Class

  • Some sects appeal to the underprivilieged, providing a theodicy of disprivilege
  • Also offer a solution of ultimate salvation if the members lives by sects rules
  • Deprived people rarely experience rewards so the rewards are based of styles of world-rejecting sects are appealing
  • Working class have status frustration - sect hierarchy can offer advancement
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Religion and Social Groups - Social Class (Part Th

Fundalmentalism and Social Class

  • Relative deprivation of poorer social groups can lead to a sense of weakening of communuity. The blame for this is focused on 'modernising western influence and globalisation forces. The solution is to put up a wall of virtue in order to return to traditional principles, to become fundalmentalist. This can be seen in the growth of fundalmentalism in third world countries. Aso in 1st world countries - Christian New Right

Cults and Middle Class - Bruce (1995)

  • Spiritual growth appeals to people who have gained material wealth (cars, house, dog, holidays). But they fell spiritually deprived and that they need more in life. Typically this occurs with universally educated people. The middle class can afford client cults
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part One)

What is a Belief System? - a belief system is any personal philisophy of how the world should work. Religion and politics can be classed as ideologies and types od belief systems

What is an Ideology? - it is the view of a particular vision or way of seeing and interpreting the world. It usually a partial view or false reality, not reflecting what everyone thinks rather only reflects the view of the group that creates the ideology. This legitimises the interests of a particular social group for example class, gender and ethinicty

Why is Ideology a Belief System? - because it is a worldview, has principles, values on how the world should work

Ideology is Associated with Negativity - one sided or our view is the best, meaning they are irrational, misleading and closed to criticism

Typical Ideologies Include - sociology theories when they promote a partial view for example Marxism challenging capitalism, Feminisim challenging patriarchy, Pluralism and Postmodernism. Political party views are also included

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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Two)

Pluralist Ideology - sees power as widespread and all social growths are represented. This promotes healthy competition of lots of ideologies and democracy. Their view of the world is one where ideologies live among each other. None of they claim to be the only way of looking at the world and no single ideology reflects the interests of a particular social group. Leaders operate power benefit society as a whole

Evaluation - In trying to persuade people that the leading ideas in society represent a broad range of social groups is a partial view. Marxists and feminists both disagree that all views are equally represented. Conflict theoriws accuse pluralism of not seeing unequal distribution of power in society

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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Three

Conflict Ideology - Marxism

  • Marxism is an ideology because Marxist think the world should operate as communism where capitalism doesn't exist because the government owns and rums the economy on behalf of all the people, this is the goal Marxism wants us to work towards
  • Marxism is an ideology becasue it has the partial view that the ruling class / capitalists are able to use their economic power to dominate society which political / active marxists are trying to avoid
  • Ideas that people hold are formed by their position in society, some positions are more powerful that other unequal views
  • Marxism sees the most important power as economic power, if you own and control the economic infrastructure (ruling class have the dominant ideology), the social superstructure can be used to your advantage
  • Mannheim - the ruling class ideology deliberatelt conceals the inequalities of capitalist society perserving existing patterns of inequality and the privilege of the ruling class, preventing social change
  • Althusser - dominant ideology spread via ideological statw apparatuses 
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Four)

  • Gramsci - hegemony - ruling class control ideas persuading working and subject class to accept ruling class ideas and ideology as their own
  • Subject class consents to rule by the ruling class rather than being forced to obey for example the way religion legitmises hierarchy. 

Neo-Marxist Ideology - still marxist as they see ruling class and capitalist exploitation as a big issue within society. However they are neo as they don't see ruling class control of our ideas at automatic, neo-marxists are less deterministic. Gramsci claims that some workers are aware of their exploitation therefore don't accept capitalism. Williams - differnet agendas

Illustrating Marxist Ideology - Family, education, religion, crime and deviance for traditional marxism and Liberation theology for Neo-Marxism

Evaluation - Traditional Marxism is accused of over emphasisng economic determinism in their ideology - weak because it ignores other possible social infuences. Post modernists aregue tha Neo-Marxists exaggerates the influence og class on culture and ideology. PM deny there is a ruling class and argue that classes are no longer significant. PM see society as too fragmented and based on lifestyle choices to have ideologies

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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Five)

Patriarchal Ideology - assumes men should be dominant in society. Feminism is an ideology because feminists think the world should operate on thr basis of equality - good partial view. Feminism shows and challenges how patriarchal ideologoy dominates in society. Feminism is an ideological view as it represents the interests of a social group

Radical Feminists - Millett sees males socialised into having a dominant temperament. Society's culture sees it as natural for men to have dominat roles. Patriarchy supported by non-ideological factors for example domestic violence

Greet - patriachal culture is deeply entrenched in soicety, which can be seen in: sexuality as women are expected to meet male standards, fashion and body image, women are expected to be obsessive about their physical appearance and women's fear of men - women restrict their movements through fear of attack from men

Illustrating Feminist Ideology - Family, Education, Religion, Crime and Deviance

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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Six)

Competing Feminist Ideologies - Challenges to Radical Feminist

  • Liberal Feminists - 'march of progress', equal pay, education and opportunity
  • Marxist Feminists - capitalist and ruling class exploitation rather then patriarchal ideology. Benston, male power and capitalist interests are both served by an ideology which sees women as secondary wage earners
  • Black Feminists - other feminists ignore the role of racist ideology in defining the position of women. Mirza, black British women do challenge racist, patriarchal and class ideology which sees them as the passive victim of discrimination. Black feminism doesn't discuss ideologies which devalue other ethnic groups
  • Post-Modern difference feminism - post 1900s big sources like gender, class and ethinicty. Don;t affect us all in the same way. Even within the same social group you get diversity of experience  
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Seven

Post-Moderism and Ideology - Post-Modernists don't use the term ideology as that see them as a metanarrative. Post-Modernists like Kyotard believe that post 1900s people no longer believe in metanarratives and ideologies such as communism, fascism or scientific rationalism because they resulted in disater during modernity. for example on communist ideology - extreme dictatorship, facism in nazi Germany resulted in Holocaust. In postmodernity Lyotard thinks people regard metanarratives and ideologied with distrust. Post Modernists claim society is noe typifies by choice and diversity, harder for one ideology to dominate. Post modernists argue that all viewpoints are valid and if nobody tries to impose their metanarrative then society will be better for it

Evaluation of Post-Modernism

  • Philo and Miller argue that post-modernisn itself is value-laden and therefore a form of ideology
  • Post-Modernist values celebratw the apparent choice of consumer culture without acknowledging that the poor cannot afford to consume
  • See post-modernsim as an ideology which supports capitalist society - large inequalities
  • Because post-modernism doesn't challenge capitalism  - inequality continues
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Eight

Political Ideologies:

  • Political ideologies are those held by political parties, like the Conservative, Labour, Green or Liberal Democrat parties in the UK.
  • Political ideolo­gies are sets of ideas and aims offering an interpretation and analysis of the world, how they think it works, and how it should be changed.
  • These ideas may themselves be borrowed from a range of other ideologies, but, like all ideologies, political ideolo­gies are usually aimed at protecting and promoting the interests of particular social groups.
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Nine)

Religion and Science Can Also be Ideology 

  • When science or religion are used to exploit or dissort to suit a particular group - ideology
  • Religion is an ideology when it promotes ruling class power and legitimates gender inequality
  • Religion acts as an ideology when it promotes patriarchy and legitimates inequality
  • Fundamentalism - Christian New Right disort science to challenge evolution and support their creationist views
  • Scientism - when some scientists claim that only science is the most valid way of explaining the world and all other ways religions and politics are dismissed. Scientism asserts that the scientific method / hypothetico deduction is how you should research the world - worldview is an ideology. 'Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture”, Sorell
  • Critcs of Scientism - sees it as blurring the lines between actual real science and an extreme philosophical view, being arrogant, intellectual bullyism and drags 'normal science' down with it. Also creates a defensive, aggressive response from other intellectual communities, especially religious Fundamentalist
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Ten)

Similarities Between Religious and Ideological Beliefs

  • Both offer a worldwide view of how the world should be and both have internal dissagreements, for example the dissagreement between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians is like the disagreement between the groups within feminism. Finally both face external challenges for example how religious faiths compete with each other and how marxist ideologies challenges pluralist ideology. Both religion and ideology are accused by science of being closed i.e. only seeing their way of explaininf the world as the best

Differences Between Religious and Ideological Beliefs

  • Religion doesn't promote interests of a specific social growth as they include a variety of social growths, where ideologies are exclusive to one growth
  • Religious social identity is faith baed where as ideologies are ideologically based
  • Religion focus on beyond earthly and mortal life where as ideology doesn't
  • Relgion has less of a detailed plan of operation and focus on moral and ethical guidelines. Whereas ideology has a very clear political and economic steps
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Religion - Ideology as a Belief System (Part Eleve

Are Ideology and Science Different?

  • Yes - if science is truly open and objective and offers falsification. Ideology is different because it is subjective and closed
  • Not Always - science can be closed an such in paradigm / framework avoiding falsification and challenge which is similar to ideology
  • No - Post-Modernists and Intrepretivists remind us that scientists are influenced bt thier social surroundings, science can reflect the interests of a specific socal group - 1909 Californian law forcinf streilisation of the feeble minded


  • Mannheim all belief systems, religious, scientific and ideology only offer a partial view. Each way of thinking believes itself to have the best way of explaining the social world. The solution to this is to have thinkers / intelligentsia that don't belong to one particular belief system. Instead intelligentsia 'free float' between religion, science, ideology, seeking the best from each and using those
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Religion - Globalisation (Part One)

Relgion has been described as the 'Original Globaliser' as the major religons have spread around the world through war, colonisation, migration ans emigration. Globalisation, in short, refers to the idea that the world has become a smaller place and is now more interconnected that ever before. This has impactes on all areas of life including religion.

What is Globalisation? - the idea that the world is becoming increasing interconnected and that barriers are disappearing for example as a result of instantaneous communication systems deregulation of trade, the creation of global markets and global media and culture

  • As societies and religion becomes increeasingly closer to one another, there is potential for religious conflict, diversity and change
  • When one society or state dominates another, people may use religion to explain, justify or resist this domination
  • Cultural and social changes brought by globalisation may threaten cherished values and lead some to turn to the certainities promised by fundamentalist religions
  • Religios idead lead some people to act in new ways that encourage economic development in less developed societies
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Religion - Globalisation (Part Two)

Religion and Economic Development

It is easy to argue, when considering Secularisation, that as new technologies, medias, science & rationality spread around the world, that Religion loses it’s significance to society & thus fades away

Why might it be seen that Religion has no place in the Modernisation of Societies?

On the contrary however, it is actually argued by some sociologists that Religion actual aids Economic development and that the economy, technological advancement & modernisation go hand in hand i.e. Religion & Economic growth are compatible rather than hindering one another

Weber shows us how Religious Ideals can lead to Economic Development (rather than hinder development) which lay the foundation for a ‘Modernised’, ‘Technologically Advanced’, ‘Capitalist Society. Look at India - rise in globalisation even shows a rise in religion with India. 85% of Indians are Hindu. Globalisation has created a scientifically education middle class how are still relgious. 30% stating that they have become more religious

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Religion - Globalisation (Part Three)

Traditionally Hudhusim offer us an explanation of the groeing religiousity of Hindus by suggesting their religiousity is a result of uncertianty. Traditionally Hunduism preaches the Renunciation of materialism and this conflicts the fact that many hindus are becoming increasingly wealthy due to globalisation.

Also points to Ultra-Nationalism - restores sense of national pride which promotes economuc growth

East Asia - other good example - China Confucianism encourages hard working and self discipline for self improvement. Promotes economic development and capitalism

Latin America and Pentecostalism - Pentecostalism is spreading across Latin America, stressing hard work, discipline and commitment

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Religion versus Science (Part One)

  • Sociologists see all 'beliefs are socially constructed, culturally relative - Berger and Luckman
  • A belief is something we think is true - we don't not know it to be, our belief relies on faith
  • Knowledge is fact and it is proven, there is no doubt
  • Philosophies, religion and political ideologies have no firm factual basis. They are all attempts to explain the world in the absence of knowledge

What is Science

  • Post 'Enlightenment' most people accept that objective, scientific, rational truths, facts exist
  • Truth, fact and knowledge can be found using the scientific method 'hypothetico deductive model'. Phase one - Observe a natural phenomena, swans seem to be white. Phase two - Hypothesis, speculate the cause - genetics. Phase three - Falsification, phrase your hypothesis as a claim - 'all swans are white' so then you can try to disprove it. Phase four - test - keep on trying to prove your explanation wrong, if it can be falsified, is fact. At least till new evidence appears and then a new knowledge framework / paradigm shift
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Religion versus Science (Part Two)

Why are People Attracted to Science?

  • Science improves quality of life by stopping fatal diseases, improving transport and technology. The benefits are visible, measurable and extensive

Why is Science Believable? Science in an Open System

  • Popper - science is believable - allows itself to be challenged unlike religion
  • Science is open to falsification - we make scientific claims that we try and prove wrong purpose and falsify, for example the clain that all swans are white - true until falsified
  • Open scientific method / positivism - quantitative, standardised, replicable, verifiable and claims to be checked and criticised
  • A final truth is never assumed for example Galileo successfully challenged the Roman Catholic church truth that the earth was the centre of the universe
  • Cumulative - Newtoon said that he stood on the shoulders of giants, recongnised science learns as it goes along
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Religion versus Science (Part Three)

Science is in a Closed System / Socially Constructed 

  • Kuhn – science can be ‘blinkered’ and science stays in its comfort zone, sticking with existing frameworks paradigms and avoiding falsification and new ideas. Only confirming what is already known - inductive, bad science

Science is Socially Constructed

  • Governent science - political agenda
  • Commercial science - profit agenda which challenges Merton's claim of communalism for example new medicines are intellectual properly
  • Positivism - may not been followed and corners may be cut
  • Findings of Experiments - open to interpretation for example G.M crops and Global Warming
  • Woolgar - scientific fact is only a belief that that some scietists sucessfully persude others to share
  • Marxists - science serves capitalism, new technology may not help workers - job loss
  • Feminists - science serves patriachy, science male dominated, promoting male needs
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Religion versus Science (Part Four)

Relgion Operates in a Closed System

  • Falsification - religion doesn't offer itself up for this - closed belief system
  • Challenges - hystorically religion punished challenges for heresy - only on way their way
  • Religous Knowledge - sacred and god given
  • Polanyi, religion is circular thinking for example people believe the bible is god's word because the bible say its gods word
  • Denies and Ignore Opposing Ideas - Galileo and heliocentric universe

Is Science a Belief System

  • Rationalist say no - science based on facts versus belief systems are based on faith. Beliefs based on God are irrational - who created god. Scientific evidence has supported evidence such as Darwins evolutionary theory and the structure of DNA
  • Realists say yes - they agree with the post-modernist view of a world with pluralist belief system, science is just another belief system. Scientists are human so it is hard for them th be objective. Their own vies creep in
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Religion versus Science (Part Five)

Similaries Between Religion and Science

  • Both Have Rituals - science hypo-thetico deductive method anf relgious rituals e.g. prayers
  • Both Operate in a Closed System - Religous belief doesn't allow for falsification and Kuhn view on science on a closed system
  • Both Have Internal Disagreement and Competing Views - scientifc disagreements over global warming compared to Protestant and Catholic Christianity

Turning Away From Science and Back to Religion

  • Scientists disagreeing, not sharing intellectual property and keeping medicines expensive
  • Negative Impact of Science - pollution, global warming, weapons of mass destructin
  • Disenchanted with science and re-enchaned with religion
  • Giddens - late modernity has serious doubts about the objectivity and value of modern science
  • Beck - risk society
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Religion versus Science (Part Six)

Post-Modernists - Science is just another meta narrative falsely claiming the one truth and a way of controling poepl. Science has failed to provide progress and lost the focus of helping people. Science is a product of modernity 


  • Science and Religion Continue to Conflict - historical Christianity oppesed Galileo's sun centred univers and modern Fundalmentalists challenge evolution. Science claims that prayer doesn't work and that the Big Bang cause the creation of the universe
  • Independence/NOMA - science and religion look at vastly different things and don't overlap. They are independent of each other. Religion - Why am i here, Science - How am i here
  • Dialogue / Intergration - some see human science as the hand of god, man's science is simply god's work, view shared by one god faith for example in Islam and many famous scientists are also religious
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