Religion and social change 1

Beth Lee
Student em Harper Adams University
6 de Oct de 2014

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Religion and social change 1

  2. CONSERVATIVE FORCE Functionalists believe religion is key in maintaining social stability and integration (deterring people from pursuing social desires) PROS CONS Religion does have positive functions for society. • It ignores religion as a source of conflict and division • Marxists and Feminists argue it supports the existing social structure and acts as a social control so the less powerful can’t change their position.
  3. Marxists see religion as a preventing social change by disguising exploitation and inequality, which creates false consciousness amongst workers. Feminists see religion as a patriarchal institution which keeps women in a subordinate position.
  4. A FORCE FOR CHANGE Max Weber In his study, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, Weber says that religious beliefs of Calvinism helped to bring about social change (in particular the emergence of modern capitalism). He says that modern capitalism is based on the systemic, rational and efficient pursuit of profit for it’s own sake, rather than for consumption. He calls this the ‘spirit of capitalism’, and this spirit has an elective affinity.
  5. CALVINISM • Predestination God has predetermined which souls will be saved and which won’t, and this decision can’t be altered. • Divine Transcendence God is so far above and greater than anyone, that no one knows his will. Weber says this gives people ‘salvation anxiety’ and in turn this creates ‘salvation panic’ as people don’t know whether they will be saved or not.
  6. Asceticism abstinence, self-discipline and self-denial of luxuries and instead devoting your life to God (e.g. Monks). The Idea of a Vocation or Calling Before Calvinism, you had to devote to God through renouncing your life to join a convent or monastry. (‘other worldly asceticism’) Now, Weber identifies ‘worldly asceticism’, which is the idea of a calling/vocation which is constantly methodical but within an occupation – but this was simply a religious duty, not salvation
  7. So, Calvinists led an ascetic lifestyle, which involved no luxuries and hard work; “Idleness is a sin”. However, this had two consequences: Their success meant they could cope with salvation panic, and they saw their wealth as a sign of God’s favour. But, this went against their belief of divine transcendence. They indulged in their business to expand profit as they couldn’t spend on luxuries. But, this is a belief of modern capitalism.
  8. PLEASE NOTE!!! Weber is arguing that Calvinist beliefs is one of the causes of modern capitalism, not the only cause. Material and economic factors were also necessary. On the other hand, Weber notes that there have been other societies which have a higher economic development where modern capitalism hasn’t developed.
  9. ANCIENT CHINA AND INDIA Modern capitalism failed to develop here, despite their material advances. Weber believes this is due to the lack of a religious belief system (e.g. Calvinism) Thus, in ancient India, Hinduism was an ascetic religion, but it had an ‘other worldly’ orientation. It directed it’s followers concerns to the spiritual world, not the material world. In ancient China, Confucianism was a ‘this worldly’ religion that directed it’s followers to the material world, but it was not ascetic. So, both religions lacked the drive to accumulate wealth which was necessary for modern capitalism.
  10. CRITICISMS Kautsky: Weber over estimates the roles of ideas and underestimates economic factors. Tawney: argues technological change caused capitalism once established. The bourgeoisie then adapted Calvinist beliefs to legitimate their pursuit of economic gain. Capitalism didn’t always develop where Calvinists were. Marshall says this is due to a lack of investment capital and skilled labour. Calvinists were among the first capitalists; this is because they were excluded by law from political office so business was a good alternative. Weberians reply that other religious minorities were excluded from this but didn’t become
  11. RELIGION AND SOCIAL PROTEST Steve Bruce The American Civil Rights Movement: This movement took place in the 1950s and 60s, and protested to end racial segregation. It started in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of a bus like she was expected to. They achieved their goal in 1964 when segregation was outlawed after nearly a decade of protest marches, boycotts and demonstrations by black people.
  12. THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT Bruce describes the black clergy (led by Dr. Martin Luther King) as the backbone of the movement. Bruce explains how they were able shame the whites into changing the law so it suited their shared Christian values of equality. Bruce says religion in this context is an ‘ideological resource’ – it provided beliefs and practices protesters could draw on for motivation and support.
  13. Bruce identifies several ways in which religious organisations are equipped to support protests and contribute to social change: Taking the Moral High Ground (not being hypocritical) Channelling Dissent Acting as ‘Honest Broker’ Mobilising Public Opinion
  14. Bruce argues that this movement was able to achieve it’s goal because it shared the same views as wider society. It shamed those in power to put into practice the principle of equality embedded in the American Constitution.
  15. THE NEW CHRISTIAN RIGHT This movement aims to take America ‘back to God’ with a strong belief in tradition (particularly within the family). It campaigns to teach ‘creationism’ (the Bible’s account are true) and to ban sex education in school. This is because they wish to make abortion, divorce and homosexuality illegal. Members advertise their beliefs mainly through the media. A modern example of a New Christian Right movement is The Tea Party (leader – Sarah Palin)
  16. However, it has been largely unsuccessful in achieving it’s goals. Bruce believes it is down to… • The ‘moral majority’ being only 15% of the population • It’s campaigners found it very difficult to cooperate with people from different religious groups • It lacks widespread support and has met with strong opposition from groups who stand for freedom of choice (Planned Parenthood etc)
  17. Bruce describes this movement as a failure. He believes it is because of the basically liberal and democratic values of most American societies (e.g. a belief in the separation of church and state). Surveys have shown that most Americans are comfortable with legalising activities that they personally believe are immoral (e.g. abortion), which poses a problem for the New Christian Right. Bruce explains how their demands are impossible in a mature democracy. In order to succeed like the American Civil Rights movement, they need to connect with the mainstream beliefs of society!