Religion May Encourage Rather Than Inhibit Social Change Essays

Religion May Encourage Rather Than Inhibit Social Change Essays

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Religion May Encourage Rather Than Inhibit Social Change


There are many arguments for and against the notion of religion
encouraging change in society.

In his book "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", Max
Weber examines the possible relationship between the rise in
Calvinism, a denomination of Protestantism, and the growth of
industrialisation (or capitalism). He says that the guidelines laid
down by this religion state a man must have a calling in life, or in
other words a well-defined career which he pursues in a single-minded,
determined manner. Followers of Calvinism were forbidden to spend the
money they earned at work on luxuries such as fine clothing, big
houses, entertainment and so forth. They believed that God had
commanded the individual to work for his glory, which in effect meant
that the money was to be re-invested into their businesses. Success in
your business was interpreted as meaning you were favourable in God's
eyes. Anything which diverted a man from his calling was condemned -
time wasting, laziness, idle gossip and more sleep than necessary to
name a few. It is these features of the Calvinistic religion that
Weber believes contributed to the development of capitalism. He
concluded he had successfully demonstrated that religious beliefs
could cause social change. However, Marxist writers have dismissed his
claims, stating that Calvinism developed in cities where
industrialisation had already been well-established, and Protestantism
becomes the ideology of capitalists to legitimate their position.

Marxists believe that any change is brought about through the
infrastructure, or economic ba...


... middle of paper ...


...tan - there was a change in
society as the country reverted to traditional Islamic values (another
example of religion as a conservative force). Women, for example, were
forbidden to work or learn, and had to instead remain at home, and all
forms of media were banned. These laws were rigorously kept to - in
cases where people had been found to break a law, they were harshly
punished with for example, being beheaded or subject to a public
flogging. Another clear argument for religion promoting social change
is that which Maduro brings up - some religious leaders have lead
revolutionary movements against the ruling classes, such as Archbishop
Tutu in South Africa and Father Torres in Columbia, and some preach
about how the poor and oppressed should actively fight to improve
their situation (known as liberation theology).

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