Assess the View That Religion Inhibits Social Change (33 Marks)

In: Social Issues

Submitted By anyardr
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The views as to whether sociologists believe religion does or does not inhibit social change will be discussed throughout this essay. Whereas sociologists such as Functionalist and Marxists believe that religion acts as a conservative force, thus inhibiting social change whether that is positive or negative, others believe that religion is a radical force and a major contributor to social change
Firstly, functionalists believe that religion socialises its members through promoting shared norms, values and morals which prevent change as it promotes integrity and social solidarity. Functionalists such as Durkheim and Parsons argue that life is impossible without the shared norms, values and morals enforced in society and without them, believe that society would fail. Durkheim sees religion as having traditional conservative beliefs about moral issues and many oppose changes that would allow individuals more freedom in their personal lives for example, the Catholic Church forbids divorce and abortion etc. This supports the idea that religion inhibits change because it upholds the functionalist ideology of ‘family values’ and often favour the more traditional and out-dated ideas of family such as the patriarchal domestic division of labour. However, it is hard to see how religion can socialise the majority of society and stop social change from happening when in today’s society, only a minority of people regularly attend church or believe in a traditional religion.
Furthermore, Functionalist sociologist Bellah introduced the concept of a ‘civil religion’ in America in 1970. A civil religion refers to a situation where sacred qualities are attributed to aspects of the society itself meaning religion is an essential feature of society. Bellah found this evident in America where the concept on civil religion was first developed also known as ‘Americanism’. Bellah found…...

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