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Religion As A Conservative Force Essay

710 words - 3 pages

Religion is generally described as either a conservative force or a force for change within society. If religion is a conservative force, it means that it leaves society unchanged and functions to maintain the status quo. This is seen as a good thing by many theorists but undesirable by others. In contrast, religion as a force for change within society means that it is an active force that changes society. Functionalist, Marxists and Feminists would view religion as a conservative force, whereas, Neo-Marxists and those who support Weber’s view of religion, would see it as a force for social change.

Functionalists see religion as a good conservative force in society. For example, after ...view middle of the document...

This helps to promote the status quo by preventing the less powerful from changing things. Marx sees religion as a conservative ideology that prevents social change, by legitimating or disguising exploitation and inequality it creates a false class consciousness and prevents revolution, thereby maintaining the stability of capitalist society. Feminists see religion as a conservative force because it acts as an ideology that legitimates patriarchal power and maintains women’s subordination in the family and wider society. For example, in the traditional marriage ceremony of the Church of England circa 1602, the bride vows to ‘love, honour and obey’ her husband.

However, in contrast to these views, Weber argues that religion can help bring about social change, as mentioned in his study of The Protestant ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, in which he argues that Calvinism helped to bring about major social change, specifically that of the emergence of modern capitalism in Northern Europe. Steve Bruce (2003) was also interested in religion as a force for social change, comparing the role of religiously inspired protests in America; the civil rights movement and the New...

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