Religion as a Conservative Force

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Religion as a Conservative Force Describing Religion as a 'Conservative Force' seems to imply that Religion is an inhibitor of social change and used as a means by which to maintain the existing order of Society and the Status Quo. Some Sociologists such as Durkheim and Marx would agree with this and there are others who would argue against such a claim. It is a debate, one side says Religion inhibits change and the other says it sets social change in motion. As already mentioned Durkheim believed that Religion acts as a Conservative Force. In more detail what he actually thought was that Religious worship is like worshipping Society, in other words the beliefs in religion actually strengthen the values of the Society from which Religion originates. Durkheim used the practice of Totemism among Australian Aborigines as an example, the Totem pole is a sacred object and each clan has an individual symbol on the Totem. The carvings on the pole are incredibly meaningful to that Society, everything from the group's history to it's very existence is invested in the pole (Not unlike the Church's significance in some societies such as Britain). Durkheim saw religion as a means of reaffirming the collective conscience although there have been many criticisms of this view. One is that the theory doesn't meet modern times, Durkheim's view is more relevant to small pre-industrial societies, in more complex societies with so many varying beliefs and only a small proportion attending church then it seems impossible that religion can affectively reaffirm society. Another criticism is that religion does not always act as an integrative force, th... ... middle of paper ... ...he actual individuals in society and what things such as Religion means to them. One example of this kind of view is Eileen Barker's Participant Observation study of the Moonies. The individuals within the Cult shared meanings such as; a sense of belonging, clear direction in terms of how they thought, answers to spiritual questions.etc. In conclusion, although the likes of Durkheim and Marx provide very good evidence of how Religion may act as a Conservative force, once you consider modern examples such as Islamic Fundamentalism, the state of Israel and Ireland and the apparent process of Secularisation it seems that Religion is maintaining nothing like the two Sociologists described. If Religion is maintaining anything then it seems to be conflict, surely that cannot be viewed as part of the conservative force.
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