The Role of Religion in Society.

Topics: Sociology, Iran Pages: 3 (1039 words) Published: July 17, 2011
Outline and evaluate the view that the role of religion in society is to promote stability and consensus? The title is arguing clearly form a functionalist perspective on religion. Religion is a secondary agent of socialisation, it plays a major part in many people’s lives, even though we may not be as religious as we used to be, religion still features strongly in our word as many of our laws and moral codes, which are targeted at maintaining a stable society stem from the bible. Such as ‘thou shall not murder’ or ‘thou shall not steal’ theses are universally acknowledged morals that help to keep order and consensus. Functionalists believe that religion provides a set of moral beliefs and practices for people to commonly adhere to, therefore it unites them, reinforcing Durkheim’s idea of ‘collective conscience’, Which suggests that society needs people to have these shared values to maintain stability and consensus. Thus it is good to be controlled by religion as it is vital in order for society to function. However a functionalist’s view is not the only one, there are many others. Marxists, like functionalists believe that the main role of religion is to prevent change and maintain the ‘status quo’ however, they differ, as they argue that this has a very negative effect on us. They believe religion ideologically controls us; forcing us to believe certain things as it makes us believe our fate is governed by god. They feel Religion hides the fact that our fate is actually determined by classes and those who are in a higher class than us. Althusser supported this by describing religion as an ideological state apparatus, meaning that religion is used as a tool to control us thus maintaining stability. For example, the hymn ‘all things bright and beautiful’ says that ‘the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made then high and lowly, and ordered their estate’ suggesting that social inequality is god given so we should not question it, only accept...
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