Some sociologists argue that religion acts as a conservative force that prevents social change. Through its teachings religion reinforces dominant norms and values, and justifies inequalities in social and power structures. Religious organisations like Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are extremely wealthy and powerful, and have close links with state, elite groups and are the key power holders in society.
Religion acts as a conservative force add well as a force for change which can be viewed by studying the theories/arguments presented by many sociologists.
Functionalists, Marxists and Feminists view religion as conservative because it functions to conserve or preserve the traditional beliefs. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) says that religion 's purpose is to maintain social stability and harmony. Durkheim (1915) studied Arunta, an Aboriginal Australian tribe. He believed religious Arunta symbols and collective worship in the form of rituals helps bond and unite individuals. Marxists(1844) view religion as an ideological weapon used by ruling class to justify the suffering of poor as inevitable and God given. Religion misleads the poor into believing that their suffering is virtuous, this prevents them from acting to change their situation as they believe that they will be gain rewards in afterlife. Feminist Naval El Saadawi (1980) argues that religion contributes to women 's oppression as it legitimates patriarchal power and maintains women’s subordination in the family and wider society. These examples proves that religion is a barrier to social change.
However, many sociologists are critical of narrow ...
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...lence. Clergy were able to shame whites (those in power) into changing the law by appealing to Christian values of equality.
Many sociologists take the middle ground acknowledging that in some situations, religion can be a conservative force, while in others, it can act as a radical force that provokes change. It depends on the circumstances of the country and the religion in question. If a religion 's beliefs are central to society and are the dominant part of the cultural, then religion has greater power to change society.
In most European countries participation in traditional religion has declined, but there continues to be a great deal of religious activity in the world today. It provides hope and comfort to those who feel socially marginalised and alienated from modern society. Religious adherence may be changing, rather than declining.
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