Religion can be seen in two different ways by society. Some theories such as Functionalism and Marxism see it as a force for conservative change, however, Feminism address it as a force for social change. Some argue that religion can prevent social change in society which is done by using religion as an act for conservative force, so keeping the status quo the same.
Religion is seen as a conservative force in Functionalism, where Durkheim believes that it maintains social stability. He described religion as “social cement” which binds people together through collective consciousness, which is when people within a society have shared beliefs, norms, values and traditions. Durkheim’s study of Totemism illustrated the idea of collective worship and social stability where he studied Australian Aborigines who worshipped the Totem. The totem is believed to have divine characteristics which separated it from average plants or animals. The continued act of group worship of the Totem through rituals and ceremony provided the group a common identity which therefore creates social solidarity which stabilises the society. He stated that the act of collective worship enabled everyone within the society to feel included, which therefore prevented anomie within individuals. However, his study was criticised for being ethnocentric, as he was not part of the Aborigines tribe, therefore it is not certain that he interpreted the rituals and practices that they did in the right way. Additionally, Interpretevist sociologist Berger said that religion was a “sacred canopy” which allowed individuals to deal with social issues, agreeing with Durkheim that religion is used to prevent anomie within a society. This is also because of individuals in society having common norms and values, therefore being able to feel united. He also believed that religion was exceptionally well at keeping society stable as it provided each person