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In: Social Issues

Submitted By tyeyoung
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To what extent is religion a Conservative Force? (33)

Religion could be seen as a Conservative Force from different perspectives such as: Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism. However, other perspectives disagree with this and see religion as a Force for Social Change.
There are different ways in which sociologists define religion. There is a substantive definition, and functional definition and a social constructionist definition. Substantive definitions focus on the content or substance of religion belief such as the belief in God or the supernatural. Functional definitions focus on the psychological functions it performs for the individuals or society. Social constructionists focus on how the members of society define religion themselves: they argue that it is impossible to produce a single universal definition of religion to cover all cases because different people have different definitions of religion.
Religion can be seen as a conservative force in two different senses: it is seen as conservative in the sense of being ‘traditional’ as it upholds traditional beliefs about how society should be organised. It is also seen as conservative as it functions to preserve things as they are.

Functionalists see society as a system of interrelated parts or social institutions. Each institution performs certain functions which each contribute to maintaining the social system by maintaining a need.
The key feature of religion was not a belief in Gods, Spirits or the Supernatural, but a fundamental distinction between the sacred and profane, Durkheim explains. The sacred being things set apart and forbidden, that inspire feelings of awe, fear and wonder. Profane being things which have no special significance. The fact that sacred things are able to give individuals such powerful feelings indicates that these symbols are representing something of great power, in...

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