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Increase of Fundamentalism in Society

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Question: Using material from Item A and elsewhere, examine some of the reasons for the growth of fundamentalism. (18 marks)

There has been a lot of discussion amongst sociologists about the rise of fundamentalism within society and the reasons for this. This essay will explore four reasons which are: the influence of secularization and religious teachings, the fear of science and the influence of the media.

Secularization within society is the first reason for the rise of fundamentalism. People of todays society, mainly westerns, are now questioning religion more than ever which has resulted in both a decline and in some cases loss of religion altogether. For example more teenagers than ever before have started having children at a young age and even more of society are having physical relationships outside of marriage. This has become a part of societies norms along with topics of abortion and homosexuals. All of these examples are things which fundamentalists recognise as going against traditional religious teachings, and has been seen by fundamentalists as threat to traditional values and moral, therefore causing them to expand and grow while trying to maintain the original ones.

Secondly, the postmodernist concept of the acceptance of spiritual shoppers within society where by people pick and choose aspects from different religions to fulfil their needs, has also caused fundamentalists to promote the traditional religious doctrine and grow. Fundamentalists believe that this picking and choosing that now takes place in society is breaking down the grand narrative and threatening traditional religious beliefs and teachings. Therefore these believers have increased their presence in society in order to try and bring people back to the fundamental values that were originally controlling society. An example of this

The third reason for the expansion of fundamentalists is the fear of science, and the impact which it is having on society. Science is seen to undermine traditional religious beliefs and God, for example how the world began has been explained with science as the ‘big bang’. This theory goes against what religion teaches to be the intelligent designers creation and prompts questions amongst society at what was originally just accepted without any doubt. This doubt has caused fundamentalists to fear the traditional teachings are being forgotten or washed away, so stress Gods creation and other key teachings during pressure groups for example and therefore growing as they do so. Karen Armstrong said however ‘Embattled forms of spirituality have emerged due to perceived crisis.” Meaning that fundamentalists are only increasing due to a crisis, which they deem to be true, therefore fighting for as a result.

Finally, as mentioned in item A the media is another central contributor to the growth of fundamentalism as they not only reject them by writing negatively about fundamentalists, but also give them a lot of publicity. For example, fundamentalist Christianity is often described as the most conservative wing of Evangelicalism. Contrasting this however, they also promote modern living and modern norms and values daily such as the use of contraception and family structures which fundamentalists view as jeopardising basic fundamental values of how people should live and the values they should follow all of which has increased fundamentalist actions and their need for growth in order to maintain the traditional ones.

This essay has discussed the reasons for the growth and expansion of fundamentalism. The main reasons highlighted in this essay have been related to personal choices, personal feelings and society, which I have explored throughout. Karen Armstrong however who was mentioned previously argued that fundamentalists were just creating a crisis over something that they believe is true and are expanding in the process.

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