Assess the View That Religion Is a Force for Social Change.

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Assess the view that religion is a force for social change. (18 marks)
Sociologist take different views on the role of religion on society. Functionalist sociologist such as Parsons argue that religion serves to help its members by providing answers and comforting them through challenging period in their life. Whereas Marxist and feminist believe that religion acts as a conservative force for society, in order to prevent social change.
Weber argues that religion can be a force of social change. From his study of the ‘protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism’, he argues that Calvinist beliefs helped to bring about major social change, in particular developing capitalism in Northern Europe. Calvinist led an ascetic lifestyle by working long hours, practising self-discipline and shunning all luxuries. As a consequence of their hard work they became wealthier, leading them to take this as a sign of God’s favour and their salvation. Weber argues that the acquisition of more and more money is the spirit of modern capitalism. Therefore this shows that the religious Calvinist beliefs played a major part in the emergence of capitalism into the world.
However other sociologist argue that religion is a conservative force as is aims to preserve and stabilises society, which in turn maintains the status quo. Although Marxist and feminist have different views on the role of religion they both agree that it contributes to social stability. Marxist argue that religion is a conservative ideology that legitimises the exploitation of the proletariat, by creating a false consciousness in the working which results in the prevention of a revolution. This shows that religion is a conservative force as it works in favour of the bourgeoisie, to conserve society.
Nonetheless Marxist recognise that religious ideas can have relative autonomy, which means that is partly independent…...

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