Compare the main assumptions of the Functionalist and Marxist perspectives on religion. ______________________________________________________________________________ “Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.” Sociologist study religion as both a belief system and a social institution. As belief system – Religion shapes what people think and how they see the world. As Social Institution – Religion is a pattern of social action organized around the beliefs and practices that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence. ______________________________________________________________________________ Marxist perspective on religion (Karl Marx)
Also known as the social conflict approach, critique of capitalism. According to Marx, in a capitalist society, religion plays a critical role in maintaining an unequal society, in which certain groups of people have more resources and power than other groups of people. For Marx, Ideology is a belief system that changes people’s perception of reality in ways that serves the interest of the ruling class. He argues that the class that control economic production also controls the production and distribution of ideas in society, through institutions such as churches, education system etc. In Marx’s view religion operates as an ideological weapon used by the ruling class to justify the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and God-given.
The Marxist perspective, persist that religion operate as a drug to dull the pain of exploitation, because religion is a distorted view of the world, it can offer no solution to earthly misery. Instead, it promises rewards in the afterlife that creates an illusion of happiness which distracts attention from the true source of suffering, namely capitalism. Marx argued that the ruling class used religion as a tool to keep the less powerful proletariat pacified.
He argued that...
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