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Asses The View That Religion Inhibits Social Change

1773 words - 8 pages

Assess The View That Religion Inhibits Social Change (33)

Functionalists would argue that religion inhibits social change by promoting value consensus, social solidarity and collective conscience. Through shared rituals, members of society are integrated into a community; understanding their norms and values therefore selfish desire’s aren’t pursued, meaning social change doesn’t occur. Marxists would argue that religion inhibits social change by performing the ideological function of keeping the working class in their subordinate position. The idea of their suffering being virtuous and rewarded in the afterlife, keeps the working class from rebelling and creating a counter hegemony. ...view middle of the document...

This has since changed since 1966, and liberal feminists would argue that these changes are necessary for gender equalities, as it is traditional stereotypes and policies that need to be changed for equality to occur. Furthermore, religion acts as a conservative force through arranged marriages. In Hinduism, the father allocates a husband for his daughter and they are arranged to get married when the daughter reaches a certain age. This prevents social change as the female automatically becomes economically dependent on her husband, and has minimal opportunities to pursue further careers in education and work, therefore maintaining her conservative subordinate position as the housewife.

However, Bruce argues that religion can help social change, specifically in the form of social protests. In the 1950’s, there was racial oppression and segregation in America, specifically the south. This led to the emergence of the Black Civil Rights Movement, predominantly led by Martin Luther King, who’s aim was to bring racial equality in American society. Bruce argues that this movement was so successful because black clergy were the backbone, as they provided support, moral legitimacy and were decisive when decisions were needed to be made. Additionally, the church provided a meeting point for the movement to rally together to organise their next move, such as the bus boycotts. The church also provided a sanctuary for the black members, where they could escape the confines of racial oppression and violence in society. The shared rituals within the church, such as singing, provided a sense of social solidary which aided the movement. These rituals kept moral high and reminded the members that they are part of greater community, which provided them with the drive to continue fighting for equality. Bruce argues that is these circumstances, religion acts as an ideological resource for social change. For example, religion acts as an honest broker; this is where the black clergy emphasised the hypocrisy of the white clergy who preached equality from the bible, such as “love thy neighbour” but also supported racial segregation. Religion also acted as a means for channelling dissent, the church and the clergy acted as an outlet for political disagreement, and the funeral of Martin Luther King provided a rallying point for the civil rights movement. Religion also takes the moral high ground, and is respected by all members of society, including politics, therefore is able to negotiate change. Finally, religion acts as a means of mobilising opinion. As religion is so prominent and significant through 1950’s America, they were able to spread their views of equality from the South to the North of American with ease. Therefore, through the support and organisation of religion, social change can occur.

Nevertheless, Bruce also gives an example of how religion inhibited social change. In the 1960’s, there was the emergence of the New Christian Right. They were a...

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