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Flashcards in Beliefs In Society Deck (31):

Durkheim: The sacred and The profane

The sacred are the things set apart and forbidden eg. Christina cross. The profane are ordinary things that have no special significance eg. A streetlight.


Parsons two functions of religion

1. It creates and legitimates society’s basic norms and values by making them scared.
2. It provides a source of meaning, answering ultimate questions about life.


What is an Ideology

Is a belief system that distorts people’s perception of reality in the interests of the ruling class.


Marx’s view of religion

Religion operates as an ideological weapon used by the ruling class to legitimate (justify) the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and god given


Lenin: Spiritual gin

Describes religion as ‘spiritual gin’ that confuses the WC and keeps them in their place. The ruling class use religion to manipulate the masses and keep them from attempting to overthrow capitalism by creating a mystical fog that obscures reality.


Examples of patriarchy in religion

1. Religious organisations are mainly male dominated.
2. Places of worship often segregates the sexes and marginalise women in acts of worship.
3. Religious laws and customs often gives women fewer rights than men.


Why is religion seen as conservative force?

It is seen as a conservative force because it defends traditional customs, institutions, or moral view. It functions to conserve or preserve things as they are, maintaining the status quo.


Functionalists view of religion

They see religion as a conservative force, maintains social stability and preventing disintegration.


Marxists view of religion

Marx see religion as a conservative ideology preventing social change. By legitimating or disguising inequality, it creates false consciousness in the working class and prevent revolution.


Feminists view of religion

Feminists see religion as a conservative force because it legitimates patriarchy power and maintains women’s subordination in the family and society.


What is modern capitalism?

It is based on the systematic, efficient, rational pursuit of profit for its own sake, rather than for spending on luxuries. Weber calls this the spirit of capitalism.


Calvinists life

They lead an ascetic lifestyle shunning all luxury, working long hours and practicing rigorous self discipline.


What is New Christian Rights?

Is a politically and morally conservative, Protestant fundamentalist movement. Their aim is to make abortion, homosexuality and divorce illegal and to take the USA back to god


The Marxists Bloch

See religion as having a dual character. He accepts that religion often inhibits change, but argues it can also inspire protest and rebellion.


What is Liberation theology ?

Liberation theology is a movement that emerged within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1960s with a strong commitment to the poor.


What is Millenarian movements ?

Are an example of the desire to change things here and now, to bring about the kingdom of god on earth.


Bruce: NCR

Argues that the NCR has been laregely unscessful because it has never had the support of more than 15% of the population.


Gramsci: religion and hegemony

Gramsci is interested in how the ruling class maintain control over society through ideas rather than simply through coercion.



Bruce agrees with Wilson that all the evidence on securitisation has shown that’s there is a steady and unremitting decline.


Explanation of securitisation

Secularisation and the decline of religion have been linked to major social changes such a modernisation ( decline of tradition), industrialisation and its effects and increased social and religious diversity.
1. Rationalisation
2. Structural differentiation
3. Social and cultural diversity
4. Religious diversity


Weber: rationalisation

Argues that western society has undergone a process of rationalisation in the last few centuries. Disenchantment, events were thus no longer to be explained as the work of unpredictable supernatural beings, but as the predictable workings of natural forces.


Parsons: structural differentiation

Parsons defines structural differentiation as a process that occurs with industrialisation as many specialised institutions develop to carry it the different functions previously performed by a single institution such as a church.


Berger: Religious diversity

Berger argues that this religious diversity undermines religious plausibility structure. Alternative versions of religion enable people to question all of them and this eroded the absolute certainties if traditional religion.
Bruce sees the trend towards religious diversity as the most important cause of secularisation, because it is difficult to live in a world containing a late number of incomplete beliefs.



Identifies 2 counter trends that seems to contradict secularisation theory:
Cultural defence: r provides a focus for the defence of national or ethnic group identity in a struggle against external force.
Cultural transition: r provides a sense of community for ethnic groups living in a different country and culture.


Davis: believing without belong

Argues that religion is not declining but simply taking a different more privatised form.



Argues that postmodern society has several features that are changing the nature of religion-globalisation, the increased importance of the media and consumerism. As a result, traditional religion is giving way to new religious forms.


New age belief

They reject obligation and obedience to external authority found in tradition religion. Instead it emphasises personal development, autonomy and ones inner self.


Difference between spirituality and religion

Religion emphasis conforming go church authority, self sacrifice and deference. Spirituality focuses on personal development, autonomy and connecting to your inner self.


Religious market theory

Stark and Bainbridge advocate religious market theory. They criticise securitisation theory for its distorted view of the past and future. They believe people are naturally and religion meets humans needs.


Gidden: Fundamentalism and Modernity

See fundamentalism as a reaction to modernity, which undermines traditional norms. He contests it with cosmopolitanism a way of thinking that embraces modernity, it tolerant, open and constantly reflects on and modified beliefs.



Distinguished between two main types of organisation- church and sect.
1. Churches are large, with millions of members claim a monopoly of truth and are universalistic.
2. Sects are small, exclusive groups demanding real commitment from member are hostile to wider society.