Evaluate the view that religious beliefs and organisations are barriers to social change (20)

The above question appears on the AQA’s 2016 Paper 2 Specimen Paper. The Question and the Item (as on the paper) Read Item B and answer the question that follows. Item B Many sociologists argue that religious beliefs and organisations act as conservative forces and barriers to social change. For example, religious doctrines such as … Continue reading “Evaluate the view that religious beliefs and organisations are barriers to social change (20)”

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Lakewood Church and the Prosperity Gospel

Three out of four of the Largest churches in the U.S. preach the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ – these are megachurches which preach the idea that God is a spiritual source which individuals can call upon to ‘enrich’ their lives – popular buzzwords include ‘hope, destiny and bounty’, and the sermons are filled with optimism, with the … Continue reading “Lakewood Church and the Prosperity Gospel”

Is Religion a Source of Consensus or Conflict?

Functionalism is the only perspective which has traditionally argued that religion is a source of value consensus, all other perspectives disagree with this in one way or another, but not all believe that religion is necessarily a cause of overt conflict in the world. Functionalism Functionalists generally argue that religion promotes value consensus in a … Continue reading “Is Religion a Source of Consensus or Conflict?”

Is religion ideological?

If sociologists refer to religion as being ‘ideological’, they typically mean the beliefs and practices of that religion support powerful groups in society, effectively keeping the existing ruling class, or elites, in power. The idea that religion is ideological is usually associated with Marxist and Radical Feminist Perspectives. This sub-topic overlaps with ‘religion as a … Continue reading “Is religion ideological?”

The Marxist Perspective on Religion

Marx and Engels saw religion as a conservative force which prevented social change by creating false consciousness. This post summarises their key ideas and offers some supporting evidence and criticisms.

The Neo-Marxist Perspective on Religion

In contrast to Marx’s view that religion was a conservative force, neo-marxists recognize the role that religion can play in bringing about radical social change. One of the earliest Marxists to recognize this was Engels, who saw similarities between some of the early Christian sects that resisted Roman rule and late 19th century communist and … Continue reading “The Neo-Marxist Perspective on Religion”

Evaluate the view that religion no longer acts as a ‘shared universe of meaning’ for people today

Item B Berger (1990) argues that religion once provided a ‘shared universe of meaning’ and was used by people to make sense of the world, and to give their lives focus and order. He refers to religion as a ‘sacred canopy’, stretching over society and helping people to cope with the uncertainties of life. Other … Continue reading “Evaluate the view that religion no longer acts as a ‘shared universe of meaning’ for people today”

Reasons why Ethnic Minorities have Higher Levels of Religiosity

Ethnic minorities in Britain tend to see religion as more important than Whites. This post summarizes four theories which seek to explain this trend: cultural transition theory, cultural defense theory, neo-marxism, and Weberianism. Cultural Transition Theory  Cultural transition theory emphasizes the fact that most ethnic minorities in the UK originate from societies with higher levels … Continue reading “Reasons why Ethnic Minorities have Higher Levels of Religiosity”

Applying material from the item, analyse two criticisms of the view that religion is merely a tool of oppression

This is one possible example of a 10 mark ‘with item’ question which could come up in the AQA’s A level sociology paper 2: topics in sociology (section B: beliefs in society option).  Read the item, and then answer the question below. Item Karl Marx famously argued that religion was the ‘opium of the masses’ … Continue reading “Applying material from the item, analyse two criticisms of the view that religion is merely a tool of oppression”

Civil Religion

Robert Bellah introduced the concept of civil religion to sociological debates surrounding the role and function of religion in society in the early 1960s. One of his best known works is his 1967 journal article ‘Civil Religion in America‘. Robert Bellah argued that ‘civil religions’ had become the main type of religions in the 20th … Continue reading “Civil Religion”