Evaluate The Postmodernist Explanation Of The Role And Function Of Religion In Contemporary Society. (40 Marks)

1096 words - 5 pages

Evaluate the postmodernist explanation of the role and function of religion in contemporary society. (40 marks)

According to postmodernists such as Foucault we live in a ‘post-modern’ world, where none of the accepted theories or ‘truths’ or ‘narratives’ can be relied on. One really big narrative is that of religion, which postmodernist refer to as ‘meta-narratives’ (the grand explanations or big stories of modern society provided by science, religion and political ideas).
According to postmodernist the ‘post-modern’ society we now live in consist of; the development and spread of information and communication technology, such as; TV and the internet. As a result ...view middle of the document...

According to the postmodernist view on religion, the growth of the ‘postmodernist world’ has resulted in; a decline in previous dominant religious organisations, whereby, globalization has resulted in a great increased exposure to rival ‘meta-narratives’ such as a wide range of contradictory religions and philosophies. As a consequence, repeated exposure to alternative versions of the truth may undermine people’s confidence in them all, and encourage the view that the truth is ‘relative’. Secondly, the post-modern society has lead to a growth of fundamentalism in all world religions. According to Holden (2002) one interpretation of the growth of fundamentalist such as Jehovah’s witnesses is that they offer hope, direction and certainty in a world which seem increasingly insecure and morally lost. Lastly, the growth of the post-modernist world also initiates the spread of new religious movements. Post-modernist believe identity and consumption can be seen in people’s choice of religion and the use they make of it, thus with so much choice available to individuals, individuals are choosing what religions they wish to follow. The post-modern society encourages this behaviour of identity and consumption, since individuals are encouraged to select religious beliefs and practices which suit their chosen identities. Traditional religious meta-narratives have lost much of their authority, as a result of travel, migration and ‘information explosion’ from the new electronic media where people are exposed to a vast array of religions.
In addition the freedom of, and desire for choice has lead to a spread of new religious movements, which offer a ‘pick and mix’ solution from the beliefs and practices on offer at the ‘spiritual supermarket’. These can be tested out to see if they work for the consumer and if the experience proves to be rewarding the beliefs and practices can be incorporated in the individual’s identity.

The postmodernist explanation of the role and function of religion seems logical in the sense that the increase in religious fundamentalism may be due to uncertainty created by an excessive amount of choice available and the fact that fundamental principles gives the individual a sense of security. What’s more, the increase in religious movements also appears to be happening in contemporary society, this too being because of the increased amount of choice being available for individuals. In...

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