“Religion can be both a conservative force and an initiator of social change” to what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view?
Sociologists such as Durkheim and Marx have argued that religion is a conservative force in the sense that it maintains the status quo, disagreeing with sociologists such as Weber and Gramsci who say it is a more radical force and prompts change, and even some fundamentalist groups have gotten involved to argue that religion is conservative in the sense that it keeps tradition and the old ways. Even feminists such as De Beauvoir have had a say in this matter.
Functionalists and Marxists have the general consensus that religion maintains the status quo within society rather than it causing social change. They believe that religion acts as a conservative force preventing social change. However, if any change happens it is due to the changes in society that shape religion. Religion as a conservative force can be defined in two ways; the first way of defining religion as a conservative force is to refer to religion as preventing change and maintaining the status quo. The functionalist perspective and Marxists perspective both provide arguments to support this definition of religion as a conservative force.
Durkheim supports the idea that religion is a conservative force with his idea of a collective conscience, which is the shared morals and beliefs uniting society. Durkheim believed that "religion promotes social solidarity." his example of religion acting as a conservative force came from totemism within the Arunta tribe, who he described as a clan, and discovered that they would worship the totems. He said this was like the clan was worshiping society but they didn’t realise they were doing it. He saw this as being a conservative force because it generates a feeling of awe and amazement throughout the clan, which...