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How Far Is Religion a Conservative Force? (33 Marks).

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Submitted By claytog
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How Far Is Religion a Conservative Force? (33 marks).

In the views of functionalism, neo-functionalism, feminism, and Marxism, religion is a conservative force that prevents social change from happening and maintains the current status quo. Yet neo-Marxism and Weber contrast this view by saying religion is used as a force for social change, while post-modernism argues we have the ability to ‘pick and mix’ our religion with the growth of new-age religions. This is all then contrasted by fundamentalism, which looks to bring about social change to take society back to biblical traditions and values. Before we try and figure out if religion is a conservative force or not, we should first define the difference between substantive and functional definitions in sociology: substantive definitions are more concerned with looking at what makes religion distinctive, while functional definitions look at how it is that religion contributes to society as a whole.
Starting with functionalism, this is supported by Durkheim, Malinowski and Parsons, this views religion as a conservative force. Durkheim split all items into two different categories: the sacred and the profane. The sacred items were ‘special, unworldly and forbidden’, while all other ‘normal’ objects were just profane, such as a chair. Specifically, Durkheim focused his research on the Aborigines. He found that their Totems were sacred (a Totem was a carved animal), and they were often carved from bull roar wood, the most sacred wood. They would then worship the Totem as a sacred and religious object, and the whole tribe of Aborigines would be united in this worship. However, while Durkheim said that the Aborigines claimed they were worshipping the Totem, they were actually only worshipping themselves. In Durkheim’s view, therefore, all religions fulfil certain functions for the individual and for society. For the…...

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