sociology essay

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Sociology Pages: 3 (1048 words) Published: October 8, 2013
“The main function of religion is to provide a code of conduct for its members of society.” Assess the sociological arguments and evidence to support this view in society. A working definition of religion is that it is an organised collective of individuals who share a specific fundamental system of beliefs. These individuals have a set of approved activities and practices which they follow. Some would say that it could also include a belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically. On the other hand, Marxists theorists see society as a superstructure which consists of a set of institutions; including religion. These institutions reinforce the ideology of the economic base. They believe that society isn’t peaceful and is based on conflict and exploitation. According to Marxism, religion creates an obedient society and gives people a place in the social order. This code of conduct provides as a distraction for the proletariat in which they are blind to the true effects of the Bourgeoisie – creating false consciousness. Karl Marx believed that religion is a form of “opium” which dulls oppressive pain, providing a sedative effect against capitalism and a sense of hope for the working class who are exploited. In Marx’s view, religion uses its ethical systems to govern the way people behave and then reinforces this behaviour with the threat or reward of the afterlife. As a result, suffering is made a virtue and those who suffer will be rewarded with a place in eternal bliss. This is almost rectifying injustice on earth – allowing the proletariat to accept their social class as inevitable and divinely ordained. For example, in Christianity, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. These ideas create false consciousness and prevent the proletariat from challenging their class position. Marxists also believe that religion teaches the...
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