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Sociology of Religion
beliefs in society
Terms in this set (121)
Religion is used to control the oppressed. Women believe the false belief that they will be rewarded in heaven with equality.
Eli Saadawi (gender/feminism)
Religious extremism in Egypt threaten the women's liberation with female circumcision.
Muslim women choose to wear the veil to escape the confines of the home.
Women wear veils feel liberated and say they are free from the lecherous stares from men.
Miller and Hoffman (gender/feminism)
Two main explanations:
Females are taught to be submissive, passive, and obedient. More willing to follow religion.
Differential roles, women work less paid work therefore have more time for religious activities. For personal identity.
Women become more religious after marriage and childbearing.
See God differently.
Women see him as a God of love, comfort and forgiveness
Men see him as a God of power and control
Glock and Stark (gender)
Women suffer deprivation. Lack of status, low sense of worth and power in a person's life leads them to search for it in sects.
Men have higher status' within religion
Eg. Buddhism - monks
Japanese - ying yang
Islam is positive for some women, they can keep their name when married.
The CoE is increasingly able to recruit young people by socialising them into religious thinking at sunday schools or in religious education.
Voas and Crockett (age)
Three reasons :
Older people are more religious due to life experiences or being close to death.
Period effect - a generation is more religious than others.
The decline in religion could show how each generation is less religious than the previous.
In 1979 the average age of churchgoers were 37. By 2005 it was 49.
Middle aged or older are more likely to join NAMs.
Found that they are gender differences correlated with age. Boys aged 12-16 represent the biggest fall in church attendance.
Origins : higher levels of religiosity eg. Pakistan, Bangladeshi, India.
Solidarity : community, solidarity, important social functions for minority groups.
Identity : maintains cultural identity eg. Language, art, marriage, cooking.
Pressure : socialisation, family pressure to stay religious.
Oppression : help deal with social oppression, a Marxist idea eg. African-Caribbeans.
Religion helps bond new communities who are under threat. Shared norms and values provided.
Immigrants had higher levels of belief before they migrated to the UK.
Religion offers ethnic minority groups:
Cultural defence - ethnic groups protect its sense of identity and ethnic pride.
Cultural transition - use religion to cope with migration. They will become influenced by wider society and their religious beliefs will decline.
Fewer second generation members said religion was important to them. Some Asians go to the mosque to avoid criticism. No Sikhs mentioned their religion to identify themselves.
Society is too fragmented to compare ethnic groups.
In countries such as GB religious pluralism is still a long way off.
People gain power from being religious and choose the culture they want.
Cultural hybridity - a blending of cultures. Allows people to maintain a identity of another ethnic group whilst still embracing british cultural values
74% of Muslim men believe religion is very important.
72% of the UK population are white Christians, 14% are active members.
MOST IMPORTANT TO YOUR IDENTITY CONSENSUS:
White Christians #10
Black Christians #3
There are more religions
Older people are more likely to go church.
In 2005 60% of churches had nobody aged 15-19 attending
Sunday shops and pubs open
Increase in science
Controversial views - they want sex before marriage
Gender - how religion is patriarchal
Religious organisations - male dominate whereas women are marginalized
Places of worship - in Islam menstruating women are not allowed to touch the qur'an.
Sacred texts - male Gods, disciples, etc. Anti-female stereotypes such as Eve, the cause of humanity falling from grace.
Religious laws and customs - dress codes, catholics van abortion.
Social class trends
More middle class involvement in religion.
Middle class are more likely to join a NRM.
Social class reasons
Upper and middle class are over represented as they are linked to conservative ideology
O'Bierne (social class)
Links between religion and class:
Status - participation was respectable.
Identity - religion is declining as a source if group identity.
Deprivation - religion no longer gives hope to the deprived.
Marxism (social class)
Religion is an illusion that dulls pain of oppression for the working class. It justifies and legitimises dominant positions.
Ashworth and Farthing (social class)
Church going is more associated with higher social class individuals.
A system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life.
In sociology, the definition of religion is not agreed upon, with different sociologists offering alternative views.
The main function of religion is to bring harmony and consensus to society. Contributes social solidarity, value consensus, harmony and integration.
Worshipping God, people are worshipping society. Through acts of collective worship society is strengthened. Sharing norms and values and moral beliefs will create social order.
Religious beliefs offer guidelines for human actions (the ten commandments). Religion deals with problems that disrupt social life, evil and suffering.
Religion helps cope with stress that threaten social solidarity. Religious rituals for life crisis' such as birth, puberty, marriage and death. An example, was to go fishing in the ocean they had to do a ritual unlike in religious lagoons.
America have identified a civil religion as Americanism which unites american society. They pray "God save America" and coins quote "in God we trust".
Religion maintains capitalist rules. It is an instrument of domination and oppression, it acts as a means of social control where the proletariat accept their position in society, poverty and exploitation.
Religion is a illusion that eases the pain produced by exploitation and oppression. He calls it the "opium of the people", like a drug it dulls pain and creates a dream world rather than bringing about true happiness.
Religion originated as a way for people to cope with oppression and exploitation it could also be a source of resistance of the oppressors and a force for social change.
Hegemony is to refer to the way that the ruling class are able to use ideas such as religion to maintain control.
Claims that the Catholicism in Latin America tended to support the bourgeoisie and the catholic church tends to deny the existence of social conflicts between oppressive and oppressed classes.
Religion is a kind of spiritual gin in which that slaves of capital drown their human shape and their claims to any decent life.
They can drain their sorrows on religion.
Identified three ways in which religion either supported or challenged the employers hegemony :
Religion is a product of patriarchy rather than capitalism.
In early history women were considered central to the spiritual quest. There were a few Gods as men. As societies developed religious beliefs in which there were held to be many different Gods and Goddesses. The mother goddess still plays a crucial role.
Characteristics of a postmodern society (postmodernism)
The development of ICT,
Mass travel and migration,
Risk and uncertainty,
Decline in traditional religions (postmodernism)
Modernity is associated with authoritative institutions which provide a metanarrative to believe in. According to postmodernists, if we have lost our confidence in authoritative institutions, then we have lost confidence in religion because religion is one of these fundamental institution.
Rise of fundamentalism (postmodernism)
Whilst a postmodern society may encourage the development of a variety of religious beliefs and NRM's other traditional ideas and beliefs may flourish as a counter response. In particular there is a rise in fundamentalism in all of the major world religions.
Modern societies have moved into a new phase of high modernity. He sees modernity as involving rationalisation and differentiation, and there is a increased reflexivity.
Religion in the postmodern world can be chosen, bit in the absence of any other central identity, people still seek a narrative to put their lives into perspective, but they are less willing to accept an externally imposed narrative of an established church.
Like postmodern society, the New Age is de-traditionalized because it rejects the established traditions of conventional religions. There are also strong links with consumer cultures.
The growth in fundamentalist religious movements is due to the fact that such a religion can offer hope and direction in an uncertain world.
A stable and formal organisation of religious believers. It is generally integrated with other social institutions, such as, schools and the family. It has a organised strict hierarchy and fits in with the acceptable beliefs of society.
For example : the Catholic Church and the Church of England.
One of a number of minority religious organisations that are broadly considered acceptable by society. Generally avoids any formal connection to the state.
Examples : the Baptist Church and the Methodist Church.
Smaller and less formally organised than a church or denomination. It is common for them to have few or no officials.
Examples : Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons.
Are more concerned with finding new ways to salvation rather than returning to old ones. They are often based around the discovery of a new "prophet".
New Religious Movements (NRM)
A collective term applied to numerous religious groups, not necessarily Christian, that have emerged in increasing numbers, particularly in Western societies, in the last few decades.
World-rejecting : critical of the outside world, seek radical change.
World-accommodating : neither accept or reject the world but live within it.
World-affirming : followers access supernatural/spiritual power to successful life.
Weber (emergence of s,c,nrms)
Those in margins of society are more likely to join sects. Many feel they are denied the prestige, the occupational status, income and opportunities which they deserve. Their new status as the "chosen few" brings hope for the future.
Glock (emergence of s,c,nrms)
Referring to the lack of something. It is relative to an expectation that is not fulfilled, to a position they feel they deserve but have been unable to attain.
Wilson (emergence of s,c,nrms)
Social change and social dislocation.
Sects tend to emerge during periods of rapid social change that lead to social dislocation. This can result in anomie, a sense of normlessness. NRM's, with their clearly defined systems and strict moral codes, can provide certainty and direction.
Wallis (emergence of s,c,nrms)
Meanings and motives which direct action in modern industrial society are rational. They are based on deliberate reasoning and then most effective methods of gaining goals. This led to desacrilisation, many NRMs developed in response to this.
Other reasons (emergence of s,c,nrms)
Secularisation : turning against traditional religions.
Globalisation : influenced by different religions.
Postmodernism : lack of structure so people turn to religion for structure.
New Age Movements (NAMs)
A number of different organisations, loosely based on spiritual or mystic themes, which have moved beyond the traditional theology associated with the great world religions.
For example : alternative therapies, paganism and gaiaism.
Examples of NAMs
Reiki : Japanese for universal life energy, and a system of natural healing.
Crystal healing : pseudoscience alternative techniques for healing powers.
Yoga : a holistic approach to work on mind, body and soul.
Common new age thinking:
Rejection of science - they favour subjectivity over objectivity.
Rejection of organised religion - too traditional.
Interest in ecology - respect the earth.
Scepticism of professional expertise - they prefer to focus on the mind and soul not the whole family.
Self-spirituality - turn away from tradition and look inside themselves to find spirituality.
De-traditionalisation - reject the spiritual authority of traditional religions.
Sects have changed over time.
Generation differences - membership is based upon voluntary adult commitment. First generation have children which are admitted as new members. They cannot sustain and become a denomination.
Hierarchy - they can die or disappear.
Lifestyle - supposed to live in the margins but need to become socially mobile to earn money, they might get used to society and not want to go back.
Age - young people are more likely to join because they have no commitment.
Claims that sects are unable to form themselves into denominations due to their particular beliefs. They need to prepare themselves for judgement day and separate themselves from sinful and corrupt society. And care deeply about their salvation.
The process whereby religious thinking practice and institutions lose social significance - wilson.
Decline in membership, attendance & participation (for secularisation)
Church attendance figures show a continuing drop in attendance. There has been a decline in church membership in Britain, although non-Christian religions and NRMs have had an increase in members.
Disengagement & differentiation (for secularisation)
Martin sees the decline in the power, wealth, prestige and influence of the church.
Parsons agrees that the church has lost it's original functions. He argues that the evolution of society involves a process of structural differentiation.
Religious pluralism (for secularisation)
Truly religious societies have one faith and one church. Modernisation and industrialisation tend to create a plurality of cultural and religious groups.
Bruce believes this does not count as secularisation.
Secularisation of religious institutions (for secularisation)
Herberg found that the main evidence for secularisation in the USA is to be found in the decline of religiosity in churches themselves. They pretend they are religious to fit into society.
Bruce believes that british churches have abandoned or have been watered down.
Desacrilisation (for secularisation)
The sacred have little or no place in contemporary Western society, this means that supernatural forces are no longer seen as controlling the world.
Weber argues that the world is no longer seen as mysterious and magical, the supernatural is no longer part of society, a scientific view of the world has replaced a religious view.
Attendance, membership and participation (against secularisation)
A large increase in Muslim and Sikh communities in Britain. Small rise in Hinduism. There has been an increase in membership of NRMs and NAMs, many people claim to have a belief in God.
Resacrilisation (against secularisation)
A resurgence of the sacred in Society. Durkheim argued that industrialisation would lead to secularisation. However, he also argued that every society needed a sacred element. The increase in NAMs could be evidence of resacrilisation
Role of NRMs (against secularisation)
Stark and Bainbridge argue that all of the world's major religions started out as sects. As such NRMs could be taken as evidence of the continuing importance of religion.
Private worship (against secularisation)
Bellah argued that the decline in church attendance is not evident of a decline in religiosity. There has been a increase in private worship. Davie said "believing without belonging" could be supported by the increase in religious TV channels.
Postmodernism (against secularisation)
Giddens believed that in a period of high modernity, people seek social process and to improve society. However, they still desire spiritual fulfillment.
Spiritual shoppers (against secularisation)
We can "shop around" in a postmodern society, characterised by diversity and choice. Lyon argues we have become spiritual shoppers.
Religious revival (against secularisation)
Beckford is critical of religious revival, he believes that religion was never never in decline. Throughout history religious beliefs systems have always been of central importance to society.
The New Christian Right (against secularisation)
Roof and McKinney note the growth of conservative Protestant religions which seem to combine a serious commitment to religious teachings with a refusal to compromise religious beliefs.
Suggested the removal of the term secularisation from the sociological vocabulary. He believes that religion has changed at different times and in different places.
Glock and Stark (secularisation)
Argues that it is too simplistic to either support or reject secularisation, instead the concept needs to be broken down and related to specific places.
Religion as a conservative force
Functionalists and Marxists argue that religion can be seen as a set of beliefs that offer resistance to change. They see religion as helping to maintain existing values and as preserving the status quo.
Examples of conservative force
Functionalism - social solidarity, 9/11, Paris attacks brought people together in rituals (malinowski)
Weber (social change)
The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Religion can lead to social change. Calvinists worked hard away from life's pleasures, success in life and money was to show glory to God, that they were the "chosen few". Profit went back to the business, developing capitalism.
Examples of social change
Apartheid - churches helping educate children.
Liberation theology - the poor should work towards ending their poverty.
John ball - male equality in the peasants' revolt in England 1381.
Martin Luther king
Yinger (social change)
"Religion cannot be understood simply ad a force that blocks or retards change"
Characteristics of science
Fact, knowledge, reliable
Profane - not really religious
Investigations, experiments, hypothesis, testing.
Characteristics of ideology
Created by the ruling class
Changing beliefs, not reliable
Characteristics of religion
Sacred places, objects
A framework of ideas through which an individual makes sense of the world. Are often associated with collections of ideas that have a religious basis and therefore can be defined as a set of principles that underpin a religious principle. It is difficult to change or criticize these beliefs.
A systematic set of beliefs, which serve the interests of some social groups in society. Ideas that are put forward for a purpose to fulfill the aims of a social group in society and which may not be true in some more fundamentalism sense. Political.
The disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics (natural sciences) but more generally, a way of looking at the natural world which is systematic, objective and capable of generating universal laws.
An organised expression of perceived relationship between the natural and supernatural world, which usually refers to God.
Religion refers to the existence of supernatural beings that have a governing effect upon life.
Characteristics of religion:
Experiential - personal and spiritual religious emotions.
Ritual - worship and other sacred texts.
Myth - stories.
Doctrine - the systemisation of beliefs and experiences.
Ethics - moral codes, guides to behaviour.
Social - institutional forms of religion.
Individual freedom - everyone is free to develop their talents as long as they don't threaten others freedom.
Equality of opportunity - equal chances, equal rights.
Government by consent - decided upon what people want.
Tradition - what worked in the past should work in the present and future.
Change - best ideas are from the past, not new ideas.
Human change - humans can be imperfect and flawed.
The state - society needs a strong state to maintain law and order and social stability.
Society - nation provides people with a common identity and a collective purpose.
Collectivism - everyone works for the common good rather than individual self-interest.
Equality - cooperation, stability, and cohesion.
Capitalism - exploits and dehumanises wage earners with social problems such as poverty, unemployment and crime.
Social class - main division in society.
Human nature - society being cooperative rather than competitive.
Marxism & ideology
Economic base - infrastructure.
Rest of society ( politics, education, religions, media, beliefs and legal systems) - superstructure.
The infrastructure shapes the superstructure.
Feminism & ideology
Every society has a division of labour based on gender. There are men's jobs and women's jobs. When they have the same job men tend to receive the highest rewards.
Men are superior to women, marriage vows state that women must serve their husbands.
18th century is the origins of modern science.
The belief that reason could provide an understanding of the world.
Used to improve the lives of human beings.
Facts are used to test scientific theories. Facts are observed to shape around theories and by their measuring instruments. He believes scientific knowledge is cumulative, not sacred or absolute truth, it can be questioned, tested to be false.
Science is socially constructed with scientific communities, they make shared paradigms. Paradigms shape the way they see the world. Scientists conduct normal sciences which refines the paradigm, not challenging it. Scientific revolutions occur when they cannot fit evidence into the paradigm.
Example : Newton's theory took over 50years to form the basis of a new paradigm for physics.
Examples of science
Galileo - said earth was round when the paradigm said it was flat, he was tortured and kicked out of the Roman Church.
Thalidomide - drug for pregnant women, to avoid sickness. Children were born with missing limbs. They did not test the drug completely.
Nicolaus Copernicus argued the earth rotates daily and planets rotate around the sun. This challenged the view that earth was center.
Modern society have doubts over the enlightenment. Science is no longer bringing certainty and knowledge, theories will be revised or discarded for the new ideas and findings. Human condition treated with scepticism, brings benefits to humankind, alongside risk and danger.
Risk is magnified by globalisation. Seen by the global nature of financial crises, terrorism & nuclear accidents which cross national boundaries. Risk and uncertainty linked to science and technology. Credibility of science research has been reduced.
Example : food crops, stem cell research.
Postmodern society has lost faith in the metanarratives of modern society. Metanarratives no longer inspire. People no longer trust scientists, science is now the servant of industry and commerce. Technoscience.
Features of church
Large religious formal organisation
Large scale membership
Open to all classes
Formal rituals - baptism
Offer the truth
Norms & values of wider society
Connected to the state
Features of denomination
Established religious group
Existed for many years
Geographically widespread membership
More working class members
Accept the norms and values of society
Co-exist with other religious organisations
Not connected to the state
Worship is relatively formal
Tolerant of alternative beliefs and less demanding
Little pressure on potential recruits
Features of sect
Concerned with finding new ways of salvation
Active and enthusiastic members
Not connected to the state
Different norms and values from the rest of society
Withdraw from society
Little use of ritual
Features of cult
Spiritual association that emphasizes individualism
Tolerate and accept views of other belief systems
Open to all
Can simply join & drop out
May have a charismatic leader
No demand for worship
No demand for high levels of commitment
Why people join sects
No guidance previously
Want to feel appreciated
Naive / gullible
Share some beliefs as sects
To be surrounded
Searching for something
No more ordinary life
Examples of sects
The peoples temple (1978), 914 members died in mass suicide/murder.
The branch davidians (1993) 93 including leader died in fire.
Aum shinrikyo (1995) 12 dead, thousands injured in sarin gas attack in Tokyo's subway.
Heaven's gate (1997) 39 members died by committing suicide due to comet hale bopp.
Cultural schizophrenia - bruce said the schisms in Christianity mean that it can no longer sell one truth.
Global figures - pope
Increased religiosity - India/Hinduism. Nanda says this results from m/c uncertain about their wealth.
Media and tv, internet.
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