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Assess The View That, For Minority Ethnic Groups, The Practice Of Religion And Membership Of Religious Groups In Mainly A Form Of Cultural Defence

1711 words - 7 pages

Assess the view that, for minority ethnic groups, the practice of religion and membership of religious groups in mainly a form of cultural defence. (33 marks)

A question on religion is very hard to answer as religion and how religious ethnic groups are is difficult to measure. For example, when investigating as to whether someone is religious or not we may use a questionnaire that involves questions like, "How often does someone visit a sacred place?” This question can be criticised because a child may go to church every week but only because their parents make them, this doesn't mean that they are religious. Equally a person may not be able to attend for practical reasons but they would ...view middle of the document...

5% ethnic minorities). Modood and Berthoud’s analysis of the 1991 Census found that most ethnic minority groups are more religious than the majority of the population in British Society.
Grace Davie is a sociologist who came up with six reasons as to why religion seems to be more important for ethnic minority groups and may be used as cultural defence. One of these is that maintaining religion can act as a basis for community solidarity in a new environment. Their religion gives the ethnic minorities an identity and through religious commitment they can maintain their cultural identity, such as language, art, culture, etc. Another is that such communities may feel a certain responsibility to encourage a continuity that is unsupported in the mainstream society as it keeps their culture and identity going. Also where religious pluralism is not recognised, religion is a way of maintaining power for first generation ethnic minorities as they use this to defend their identity. From these reasons we can see that religion is used by ethnic minorities to help them cope in Western societies which are much different from their own. The Western society changes so much that the ethnic minorities use religion to maintain constant things in their life and to make them feel like they have power in an unknown society. Therefore religion is used as a cultural defence as they maintain their culture because the new society, the ethnic minorities live in, goes against their way of life and does not show their personal identity. However, this is criticised because it shows that ethnic minorities need religion to defend their culture but ethnic majorities may not see the need to defend their culture on such a big scale and therefore do not display their need for religion. Ethnic majorities will generally not show cultural defence as they make up the most of society and there is no need for it and perhaps take their identity for granted. This point explains that while ethnic minorities may practice religion and display their membership to religious groups as a form of cultural defence, ethnic majorities may also show cultural defence if they thought their religion is under threat and were given a chance to show it.
Another sociologist called Modood believed that religion seems to be more important for ethnic minority groups for another set of reasons, which are similar to Grace Davie’s. Modood see’s religion as showing someone’s social identity as it shows who they are and to give ethnic minorities a sense of belonging whilst living in a hostile country. Many centres of worship operate as centres for education, which pass on cultural norms and values therefore their religion is what socialises them. Normally many of these education centres are for only those who practice that religion and this is showing cultural defence because they are trying to keep other religions, which are against their ways of life, out. Ethnic minorities also use religion to help them cope...

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