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Beliefs in
Society
Unit 3 – A2 Sociology
Introduction
 It can be argued that religion and society share a
cause-and-effect relationship.
 Sometimes changes in society effect religion.
 Some see religion as a method of prevention for
change in society taking place as it aims to retain
traditional and conservative values.
 Other times, religion causes a change in society
and society has to adopt a new moral code/order.
Inhibiting change
Functionalism:
 Religion contributes to the well-being, stability and
value consensus of society.
 DURKHEIM - social life can only exist if values are
shared and society is integrated into a coherent
whole.
 The relationship between humans and God is
reflective of the relationship between humans and
society. It is not God who punishes us, but rather
society.
 Collective worship reinforces social
solidarity, restrains deviant behaviour and restricts
social change.
Marxism:
 Karl Marx believed that religion is a tool of
class exploitation and oppression.
 Rewards such as the afterlife ease the pain of
believing that the world is a result of God’s will
and is unchangeable.
 Social relationships seem inevitable and God-
given.
 Religion involves the distortion of 'reality', it is
ideological.
Criticisms of functionalism
 It is claimed that Durkheim's analysis is not
applicable to societies that are typified by
cultural diversity.
 The idea that religion is the worship of
society has been criticised - as an
argument it is difficult to substantiate
other than through some notion of false
consciousness since people clearly
believe they are worshipping God.
Criticisms of Marxism
 Marx’s approach takes a documentary
nature, but looking at the nature of faith
and the way in which the religion of the
poor concentrates on the afterlife.
 Also there are some traditional Marxists
who adopt the view that religion can
bring about social change, a position also
adopted by some neo-Marxists.

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Beliefs in society student blog

  • 1. Beliefs in Society Unit 3 – A2 Sociology
  • 2. Introduction  It can be argued that religion and society share a cause-and-effect relationship.  Sometimes changes in society effect religion.  Some see religion as a method of prevention for change in society taking place as it aims to retain traditional and conservative values.  Other times, religion causes a change in society and society has to adopt a new moral code/order.
  • 3. Inhibiting change Functionalism:  Religion contributes to the well-being, stability and value consensus of society.  DURKHEIM - social life can only exist if values are shared and society is integrated into a coherent whole.  The relationship between humans and God is reflective of the relationship between humans and society. It is not God who punishes us, but rather society.  Collective worship reinforces social solidarity, restrains deviant behaviour and restricts social change.
  • 4. Marxism:  Karl Marx believed that religion is a tool of class exploitation and oppression.  Rewards such as the afterlife ease the pain of believing that the world is a result of God’s will and is unchangeable.  Social relationships seem inevitable and God- given.  Religion involves the distortion of 'reality', it is ideological.
  • 5. Criticisms of functionalism  It is claimed that Durkheim's analysis is not applicable to societies that are typified by cultural diversity.  The idea that religion is the worship of society has been criticised - as an argument it is difficult to substantiate other than through some notion of false consciousness since people clearly believe they are worshipping God.
  • 6. Criticisms of Marxism  Marx’s approach takes a documentary nature, but looking at the nature of faith and the way in which the religion of the poor concentrates on the afterlife.  Also there are some traditional Marxists who adopt the view that religion can bring about social change, a position also adopted by some neo-Marxists.