UNIT 3 BELIEFS IN SOCIETY TOPIC 1: THEORIES OF RELIGION What is religion? Substantive definition Exclusive; they draw a clear line between religious and non religious beliefs. To be a religion, a set of beliefs must include belief in God or the supernatural. However, defining religion in this way leaves no room for beliefs or practices that perform similar functions to religion but do not believe in God. It also has been accused of western bias as they exclude religion such as Buddhism, which do not have a western idea of God. Functional definition Define religion in terms of the social or psychological functions it performs for individuals in society. DURKHIEM defines religion in terms of the contribution it makes in social integration. YINGER argues religion answers ultimate questions for individuals. It is inclusive, allowing us to include a wide range of beliefs and practices. No bias against non western religions such as Buddhism. However, just because an institution helps integrate individual groups, this does not make it a religion e.g. Football. Social constructionist definitions They take an Interpretivist approach that focuses on how members of society themselves define religion and also the meanings people give to religion. They argue it is impossible to produce a single universal definition of religion since different groups and individuals mean very different things by religion. They are interested in how religion is constructed. ALDRIDGE shows how for its followers, Scientology is a religion whereas governments have denied its legal status and sought to ban it. FUNCTIONALIST THEORIES Durkheim on religion Social order and stability can only exist if people are integrated into society by a value consensus. Religion is an important element in achieving this, as it provides a set of beliefs and practices which unite people together. The sacred and the profane DURKHEIM argues that the key feature of religion is to provide a fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane. The sacred are things set a part, forbidden that inspire feelings of awe. The profane are things ordinary and mundane. The fact that sacred things evoke such powerful feeling in believers
indicates to DURKHEIM that this is because they are symbols representing something of great power. This can only be society. Although there is a variation in the sacred symbols, they all perform a special function; uniting believers into a single moral community. Totemism DURKHEIM believed that the essence of religion could be found by studying its simplest form clan society. In his study of Arutna (Aboriginal tribe with clan system) bands of kin come together and perform rituals involving worship of a sacred totem (clans emblem). For DURKHEIM when clan members worship their totemic animal, they are in reality worshipping society. The totem inspires feelings of awe in the clan members precisely because it represents the power of the group which individuals are utterly dependent on. However, while it is possible to see a common religion bringing people together, establishing a value consensus and integrating a small-scale communities such as Arunta , it is hard to see how it can perform this role in contemporary societies. MESTROVIC argues this is difficult where there is a wide diversity of different beliefs and faiths. Indeed, religion can often, and perhaps more often than not, do the opposite. Different religions and religious beliefs and values can tear people and communities apart, and pose threats to social order and stability. WORSELY notes that there is no sharp division between the sacred and the profane. Even if Durkheim is right about totemism, this does not prove that he has discovered the essence of all religions. The collective conscience DURKHEIM argues shared religious rituals reinforce the collective conscience (shared beliefs, values and attitudes). Participants in shared rituals bind individuals together reminding them they are a part of a single moral community which they owe their loyalty, also remind individuals of the power of society which themselves are nothing without and to which they owe everything. Cognitive functions of religion According to DURKHEIM religion is the origin of the concepts and categories (time, space, cause, substance and number) we need for reasoning, understanding the world and communication. Categories such as space, time and causation is supported by the idea of a creator bringing the world into being at the beginning of time.
Psychological functions MALINOWSKI also saw religion as providing explanations for events that were hard to explain and provides security in the face of uncertainty. For example, he contrasts the safety of lagoon fishing and the danger of ocean fishing. In ocean fishing, islanders perform rituals to ensure a safe and successful expiation. Religion also fulfils a need for emotional security and relieves situations of emotional stress which threaten social stability and solidarity. At times of life crisis religion helps to minimise disruption e.g. funeral rituals reinforce solidarity among survivors and the notion of immorality gives comfort to the bereaved by denying death. For example, in wartime church attendance increase. Norms and values PARSONS emphasizes the role of religion in underpinning the core values of any culture, and the social norms which regulate peoples behaviour. The set of moral beliefs and values in religion may become so deeply ingrained through socialisation that it may have an effect on the everyday behaviour of believers and nonbelievers alike. For example, if the social rules about killing, stealing and adultery are broken, most individuals will experience a guilty conscience about doing something wrong. However, many sociologists argue that western societies are becoming more secular and as such it is unlikely that religion still acts as an agent of social control as it may well have done in the past. In todays society, people are more likely to be dissuaded from committing deviant acts by either the media or the heavy use of surveillance technology in many towns and cities. Civil religion DURKHEIM believed that the supernatural dimensions of religion would eventually disappear, and that other civil religions might take on this role in peoples lives. Civil religion suggests that sacred qualities are attached to aspects of society itself, with non-religious rituals and ceremonies performing similar functions as religion, though not necessarily having any link with the supernatural. BELLA uses the example of
America as a civil religion. Pledge of Allegiance in USA is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the USA. However, once we abandon the link between religion and some form of belief in supernatural forces, then it is questionable whether we are still really talking about religion at all, rather than just the various other nonreligious ways that people are socialised and integrated into the societies to which they belong. Overall evaluation of functionalist The functionalist perspective sees religion as a conservative force, promoting social harmony and protecting the status quo. However, this downplays the role that religion in creating social change. For example, the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran in 1979. Islam became the focus for resistance to the Shahs oppressive regime, led by clerics such as the Ayatollah Khomeini. The revolution of 1979 brought the creation of the Islamic Republic, in which cleric held state power and were able to impose Islamic Sharia law on the country.This shows how religion can act as what Gramsci calls a counter-hegemony in showing oppressed peoples alternative ways of organising societies. Historically, religion seems to have played a far greater role in dividing people than uniting them, as can be seen in countless religiously based wars or community conflicts. It is often the case that the stronger the religious belief, the stronger is the sense that other religious beliefs are wrong, heretical or evil and need to be defeated, as found among Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. For example conflict can occur within the same religion such as Islam between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq. Conflicts can occur between religions. In the Indian subcontinent, warfare between Muslims and Hindus was in part responsible for the division of a once united India into now two separate countries, India and Pakistan. MARXIST THEORIES
Religion as ideology According to MARX, ideology is a belief system that distorts peoples perception of reality in ways that serve the interest of the ruling class. He argues that religion operates as an ideological weapon that is used by the ruling class to legitimate the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and god-given > their suffering is virtuous and they will be rewarded afterlife. E.g. in Christianity, the bible states that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. This created false consciousness: distorted view of reality that prevents the poor from acting to change their situation. How does religion dull the pain of oppression? The promise of a paradise of eternal bliss in life after death. The appeal of Christianity is its promise of salvation which acts as a form of social control; The meek shall inherit the earth. Religion offers the hope of supernatural intervention to solve the problems of earth e.g. prayer. Some religions make a virtue of the suffering produced by oppression (blessed are the poor).Poverty is made more tolerable by offering a reward of suffering and promising redress for injustice in the afterlife. As a result social arrangements seem inevitable and are justified. Religion and alienation MARX also sees religion as the product of alienation. In capitalist society, workers are alienated because they do not own what they produce and have no control over the production process. In these dehumanising conditions the exploited turn to religion as a form of consolation. Religion acts as an opiate to dull the pain of exploitation. Similar to opium, religion masks the underlying problem of exploitation that creates need for it. Promises of the afterlife create an illusory happiness which distracts attention from the true source of the suffering, namely capitalism. Overall evaluation of Marxism MARX ignores positive functions of religion such as psychological adjustment to misfortune. Neo-Marxist sees
certain forms of religions assisting not hindering the development of class consciousness. Therefore is not simply a conservative force, For example, In South America in the 1960s and 1970s, Roman Catholic priests Liberation Theology sought to present an image of Christ portrayed more as a reforming revolutionary than the passive peacemaker presented in mainstream Catholicism. This shows how religion can act as what Gramsci calls a counter-hegemony in showing oppressed peoples alternative ways of organizing societies. Religion does not necessarily function effectively as an ideology to control the population e.g. ABERCROMBIE AND TURNEY argue that in pre-capitalist society Christianity only had a limited impact on peasantry. FEMINIST THEORIES Evidence of patriarchy Religion organisations Mainly dominated by men despite the fact that women often participate more than men in these organisations. E.g. Orthodox Judaism & Catholicism forbid women to become priests. ARMSTRONG sees womens exclusion of priesthood as evidence of marginalisation. WOODHEAD argues the exclusion of women from the Catholic priesthood is evidence of the Churchs unease about the emancipation of women generally. Places of worship Often segregate the sexes and marginalise women, for example, seating women behind screens while the men occupy the central and sacred places. Not being allowed to preach or read from sacred texts, taboos that regard menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth as pollution may prevent participation. For example, Islam restricts women on menstruation from touching the Quran. HOLM describes this as devaluation of women in contemporary religion. Sacred texts Largely feature the doings of male gods, prophets etc. And are usually written and interpreted by men. E.g. Eve in Judae-Christianity The Christian story of Genesis, women caused humanitys fall from face and expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
Religious laws and customs May give women fewer rights than men, for example in access to divorce, how many spouses they marry, decision making and dress code etc. Many religions legitimate and regulate womens traditional domestic and reproductive role. E.g. Catholic Church band abortion and artificial contraception. WOODHEAD argues the exclusion of women from the Catholic priesthood is evidence of the Churchs unease about the emancipation of women generally. Overall evaluation of Feminism Women have not always been subordinate to men within religion. ARSMOSTRONG argues that early religions often placed women at the centre. E.g. Earth mother goddesses, fertility cults and female priesthoods were found throughout the East 6,000 years ago. However 4,000 years ago the rise of monotheistic religions saw the establishment of a single all powerful male God which reinforced the subordination of women and patriarchal values. SADAWI argues that this is not the direct cause of their subordination. It is the result of patriarchal forms of society coming into existence in the last few thousand years. However once in existence patriarchy began to influence and reshape religion. E.g. men reinterpreted religious beliefs in ways that favoured patriarchy. Monotheism legitimates power of men over women. WOODHEAD criticises feminist explanations that simply equate religion with patriarchy and the oppression of women. She argues that there are religious forms of feminism ways in which women use religion to gain greater freedom and respect. She uses the example of the hijab worn by Muslims. Western feminist tend to see the hijab as a form of oppression WOODHEAD argues Muslim women choose to wear hijab to escape the confines of the home and enter education and employment. For them it is a symbol of liberation that enables them to enter public without loosing their culture and history. Women also use religion to gain status and respect for their roles within the private sphere of home and family. For example, belonging to an evangelical group can be empowering for some women. Despite the strong belief in traditional gender roles that such groups hold, women are able to use religion to increase their power and influence.
For example, a strongly held belief among evangelicals is that men should respect women. This gives women power to influence mens behaviour by insisting they practice what they preach and refrain from macho behaviour. Similarly, women make use of activities linked to the church, such as Bible study groups, to share experiences and find support. We should also note that the position of women in religion is changing e.g. Priesthood since 1992 Church of England TOPIC 2: RELIGION AND SOCIAL CHANGE Weber: Religion as a force for change Religion can be a force for social change rather than a conservative force. WEBER argues that the religious beliefs of Calvinism (a form of Protestantism) helped bring about social change specifically the emergence of modern capitalism. According to WEBER the spirit of capitalism has an elective affinity or unconscious similarity to the Calvinist beliefs and attitudes. Calvinist beliefs Predestination God had predetermines which souls would be saved the elect and which would not even before birth. Individuals cannot change this whether through their deeds. Divine transcendence God was so far above and beyond this world that know human in this world could know his will leaving the Calvinist to feel unprecented inner loneliness. This created a salvation panic as they did not know whether they had been chosen to be saved nor could they do anything to earn salvation. The idea of a vocation/calling The only thing Calvinist knew of Gods place was from Bible which revealed it them we were put on earth to glorify Gods name by our work. For Calvinist the idea of a calling meant constant methodical working an occupation, not a monastery. Calvinist led an ascetic lifestyle shunning all luxury, worked long hours and practised selfdiscipline. Consequences of Calvinism hard and asceticism Their wealth and success performed a psychological function for the Calvinist which allowed coping with their salvation panic. As they grew wealthier, they took this as a sign of Gods favour and their salvation. Driven by their work ethic, they systematically and methodically accumulated wealth by the most efficient and rational means possible. -> Not permitting themselves to squander on luxuries, they reinvested it in their businesses which grew and
prospered. In WEBER view, this is the very spirit of capitalism where the objective is the acquisition of more and more money. Calvinism brought in capitalism. Evaluation of Weber Although other societies, like ancient China and India were more materially and economically advanced than Europe, but capitalism did not take off there. WEBER argues that this was due to the lack of religious belief system like Calvinism. In ancient India, Hinduism was an ascetic religion like Calvinism favouring renunciation of the material world, however its orientation was other worldly it directed followers concerns away from the material but towards spiritual world. In ancient China, Confucianism was a worldly that directed its followers towards the material world but was not ascetic. Both Hinduism and Confucianism lacked the drive to systematically accumulate wealth that is necessary for modern capitalism. KAUTSKY argues capitalism preceded rather than followed Calvinism. TAWNEY argues that technological change, not religious ideas, caused the birth of capitalism. Bourgeoisie capitalists were attracted to it because it offered convenient justification for the pursuit of economic interests the Protestant religion was an ideology used to legitimate capitalist interests. Some countries with large Calvinist populations did not industrialise, which is cited as evidence that Weber's thesis is wrong. However, Marshall points out that Weber did not claim that Calvinism was the sole pre condition for the emergence of capitalism, for example, although Calvinism was in Scotland, they lacked a skilled technical labour force and capital for investment. WEBERS view that both material and cultural factors are needed for capitalism to emerge. Despite some empirical difficulties in testing Weber's thesis, his ideas remain important because he highlighted the relationship between social structure (i.e. the economic and social system) and social action (i.e. interaction and interpretation). His point was that if certain structural factors are present, people may choose to act upon religious ideas and bring about change.
Religion and social protest The American civil rights movement BRUCE describes the struggle of the black civil rights movement to end social segregation of the 1950s as an example of religiously motivated social change. The civil rights movement began in 1955 (a movement to the end of racial segregation). BRUCE describes the black clergy as the backbone of the movement led by Dr Martin Luther King giving support to civil rights activists. Their churches provided meeting placed and sanctuary from the threat of white violence, and rituals such as prayer meetings an hymn singing were a source of unity in the face of oppression. BRUCE argues that the black clergys were able to shame whites into changing the law by appealing their shared Christian values of equality. BRUCE sees religion as and ideological resource for the civil rights movement because they provided beliefs and practices that believers could draw upon for motivation and support. For example, channelling dissent Religion provides channels to express political dissent. E.g. the funeral of Martin Luther King was a rallying point for the civil rights cause. However, there is evidence to suggest that in some cases using religion as a force for change is not always successful. For example, the New Christian Right are a politically and morally conservative, Protestant fundamentalist movement. They wish to bring America back to God. They wish to make abortion, homosexuality and divorce illegal, turning the clock back to a time before the liberalisation of America culture and society began. The New Christian Right had failed because it lacked widespread support and has met with strong opposition from groups who stand for freedom of choice, such as Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way. In comparison with him civil rights movement. It is suggestible to achieve success, the beliefs and demands of religiously motivated protest movements and pressure groups need to be consistent with those of wider society. BRUCE argues that they need to connect to mainstream beliefs about democracy, equality and religious freedom which the civil rights movement did but the New Christian Right failed to do. This questions the extent to which religion actually
plays a role in creating change but rather it is the non-religious values of society that religion has affirmed to drive change. Marxism, Religion and Change Ernst BLOCH: the principle of hope - BLOCH also sees religion as having a dual character. He argues for a view of religion that recognises both its positive and negative influence on social change. He accepts that religion often inhibits change, but he emphasises that it can also inspire protest and rebellion. For BLOCH, religion is an expression of the principle of hope our dreams of a better life that contain images of utopia. Images of utopia can sometimes deceive people with promises of rewards in heaven as Marx describes himself. However, they may also help people see what needs to be changed in this world. Religion as a dual character Liberation Theology This is a movement that emerged within the Catholic Church in Latin America. Unlike Catholicism which supported the status quo, liberation theology set out to change society. For example, priest helps the poor to establish support groups, and helped workers and peasants to fight oppression under the protection of the church. Catholic priests resisted state terror in Latin America. They were often the only authority figures who took the side of the oppressed. The success of the liberation theology has led some neo-Marxist to question that religion is always a conservative force. MADURO believes that religion can be a revolutionary force that brings about change. In the case of the liberation theology, religious ideas radicalised the Catholic clergy in defence of peasants and workers. However, some Marxist disagree with this. Much depends on how social change is defined. Liberation theology may have helped bring social change but it did not threaten the stability of capitalism. Millenarian movements In Christian theology, this refers to the idea that Christ would come into the world for a second time and rein for a thousand years before the end of the world. WORSELY argues that such movements expect the total and imminent transformation of this world by supernatural means that will create a life free from pain, death and sin. The appeal of millenarian movements is largely to the poor, because they promise immediate improvement, and they often arise in colonial situations. The transformation will be collective; the group will be saved not just individuals.
WORSELY describes the movements as pre-political they used religious ideas and images, but they united native populations in mass movements that spanned tribal divisions. From a Marxist perspective ENGELS argues that they represent the first awakening of proletarian self-consciousness. Gramsci: religion and hegemony GRAMSCI is interested in how the ruling class maintain their control over society through the use of ideas rather than coercion (force). He uses the term hegemony to refer to the way that the ruling class are able to use ideas such as religion to maintain control (status quo). When hegemony is established, the ruling class can rely on popular consent to their rule, so there is less need for coercion. E.g. the immense conservative ideological power of the Catholic Church helped to win support for Mussolinis fascist regime. However, hegemony is never guaranteed. It is always possible for the working class to develop and alternative version of how society should be organised that is, a counter hegemony. Like Engels, GRAMSCI sees religion as having a dual character and he notes that in some circumstances, it can challenge as well as support the ruling class. He argues that popular forms of religion can help workers see through the ruling class hegemony by offering a vision of a better, fairer world. Religion and class conflict BILLINGS applies GRAMSCIs ideas in a case study comparing class struggle in two communities coalminers and textile workers. Both were working class and evangelical Protestant, but they experienced very different levels of strike activity and industrial conflict. The miners were much more militant, struggling for recognition of their union and better conditions, while the textile workers were quiescent, uncomplaingly accepting to the status quo. Differences in militancy can be understood in terms of hegemony and role of religion. For example BILLINGS identifies that in terms of Organisations the miners were able to use independent churches to hold meeting and organise, whereas the textile workers lacked such spaces. They remained in company churches that where under the control of textile mill owners.
BILLINGS shows that religion was an important factor affecting the level of class struggle. He concludes that religion cam play a prominent oppositional role. His study shows that the same religion can be called upon either to defend the status quo or justify the struggle to change it. TOPIC 3 : SECULARISATION Secularisation in Britain What is secularisation? WILSON defines it as the process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose social significance. FACTS CROCKETT estimates that in the year 1851, 40% or more of the adult population of Britain attended church on Sundays. This is much higher than the figure today and it has led some sociologist to claim that the 19 th century was a golden age of religiosity. A decline in the proportion of the population going to church. An increase in the average age of church goers. Fewer baptisms and church weddings. A decline in the numbers holding traditional Christian beliefs. Church attendance Only 6.3% of the adult population attended church on Sundays in 2005. Churchgoing in Britain has therefore halved since 1960s and is projected to fall further, to 4.7% by 2015. Also Sunday school attendance has declined further and only a tiny proportion of children now attend. The English Church Census (2006) shows that attendance of large organisations such as the Church of England and the
Catholic Church have declined more than small organisations. Church weddings and baptism remain more popular than attendance at Sunday services; here too the trend is downwards. Religious beliefs More people claim they hold Christian beliefs than actually belong to or go to church. Religious belief is declining in line with the decline in church attendance and membership. GILL et al reviewed almost 100 national surveys on religious belief from 1930 to 1996. They show a significant decline in a personal God or in Jesus as the son of God. When asked would you describe yourself as being of any religion or denomination? only 23% replied no in 1950 but by 1996 this had increased to 43%. Religious institutions today The churchs influence on public life has decline since the 19th century. In particular, the state has taken over many of the functions that the church used to perform. Thus. Whereas religion once pervaded every aspect of life, it has increasingly been relegated to the private sphere of the individual and the family. Until the min-19th century, the churched provided education, but since then it has been provided mainly by the state. Although there are still faith schools these are mainly state funded and must conform to the state regulations, such as teaching the National Curriculum. However, Interpretivist sociologists suggest these statistics should be treated with caution for the following reasons. Statistics relating to the previous century are probably unreliable because sophisticated data collection practices were not in place. Contemporary statistics may also be unreliable because different religious organisations employ different counting methods. BELLAH argues that people who attend church are not necessarily practising religious belief and those who do believe may not see the need to attend. Religion is a private experience for many and consequently cannot be reliably or scientifically measured. Explanations of Secularisation
Weber: rationalisation Rationalisation refers to the process by which national ways of thinking and acting come to replace religious ones. WEBER argues that the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther in the 16th century started a process of rationalisation of life in the West. This process undermined the religious worldview of the Middle-Ages (enchanted or magical garden. That God and other spiritual beings and forces, were believed to be present and active in this world, changing the course of events ) and replaced it with the rational scientific outlook found in modern society. Disenchantment The Protestant Reformation brought a new worldview. Protestantism saw God as transcendent as existing above and beyond this world that events were no longer to be explained as the work of unpredictable supernatural beings. All that was needed to understand them was rationality the power of reason. WEBERs view sees disenchantment as enableling science to thrive and provide the basis for technological advances that give humans more and more power to control nature. In turn, this further undermines the religious worldview. BRUCE also argues that the growth of a technological worldview has largely replaces religious or supernatural explanations of why things happen. For example, when a plane crashes with the loss of many lives, we are unlikely to regard it as the work of evil spirits or Gods punishment of the wicked. Instead, we look for scientific and technological explanations. However, religious explanations survive in areas where technological and scientific explanations are least effective. For example we may prey for help if we are suffering from an illness for which scientific medicine has no cure. People's belief in science also depends on irrational faith. People don't often see the empirical evidence for science or understand it but accept it without question because scientists have been elevated to high priest status in society. LYON argues that the last four decades have been a period of re-enchantment, with the growth of unconventional beliefs, practices and spirituality. However, religion is still a major provider of education and welfare for the poor. Also, the media still shows a great interest in religious issues such as women priest. Some sociologists (notably Parsons) say that disengagement is probably a good thing because it means that the churches can focus more effectively on their central role of providing moral goals for society to
achieve. Structural differentiation PARSONS argues that separate, specialised institutions develop to carry out functions that were previously performed by a single institution. PARSONS sees this as having happened to religion it dominated preindustrial society, but with industrialisation it had become a smaller and more specialised institution. According to PARSONS, structural differentiation leads to disengagement of religion. Its functions are transferred to other institutions such as the sate and it becomes disconnected from wider society. BRUCE agrees that religion has become separated from wider society and lost many of its former functions. It has become privatised confined to the private sphere of the home and family. Religious beliefs are now largely a matter of personal choice and religious institutions have lost much of their influence on wider society. As a result, traditional rituals and symbols have lost meaning. Even where religion continues to perform functions such as education or social welfare, it must conform to the requirements of the secular state. For example, teachers in faith schools must hold qualifications that are recognised by the state. At the same time, church and state tend to become separated in modern society. Explanations of Secularisation 2 Social and cultural diversity BRUCE sees industrialisation as undermining the consensus of religious beliefs (that integrated and regulated their behaviour)that hold small rural communities together. Small close-knit rural communities give way to large loose-knit urban communities with diverse beliefs and values. Social and geographical mobility not only breaks up communities but brings people together from many different backgrounds, creating even more diversity. Diversity of occupations, cultural and lifestyles undermines religion. BRUCE argues that the plausibility of beliefs is undermined by alternatives. It is also undermined by individualism because the plausibility of religion depends on the existence of a practise religious community. ALDBRIDGE points out that a community does not to be in particular areas. Religion can be a source of identity on a worldwide scale. This is true of
Jewish, Hindu and Muslim communities for example. Some religious communities are imagined communities that interact through the use of global media. Pentecostal and other religious groups often flourish in impersonal urban areas. Religious diversity BERGER argues that another cause of secularisation is the trend towards religious diversity. In the Middle-Ages, the Catholic Church held an absolute monopoly it has no competition. As a result, everyone lived under a single set of beliefs shared by all. This all changed with the Protestant Reformation, when Protestant churches and sects broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16 th century. Since the Reformation, the number and variety of religious organisations has continued to grow, each with a different organisations has continued to grow, each with a different version of the truth. BERGER argues that this creates a crisis of credibility for religion. Diversity undermines religions plausibility structure. When there are alternative versions of religion to choose between, people are likely to question all of them and this erodes the absolute certainties of traditional religion. What is true or false becomes simply a personal point of view, and this creates the possibility of option out of religion altogether. BERGER has changed his views and now argues that diversity and choice actually stimulate interest and participation in religion. For example, the growth of evangelicalism in Latin America and the New Christian Right in the USA point to the continuing vitality of religion, not its decline. BECKFORD agrees with the idea the religious diversity will lead to some to question or even abandon their religious beliefs, but this is not inevitable. Opposing views can have the effect of strengthening a religious groups commitment to its existing belief rather than undermining them. Cultural defence and transition BRUCE identifies two counter-trends that seem to go against secularisation theory because they are associated with higher than average levels of religious participation. Cultural defence is where religion provides a focal point for the defence of national, ethnic, local or group identity in a struggle against an external force such as a hostile foreign power. Examples include the popularity of Catholicism in Poland before the fall of communism and the resurgence of Islam before the
revolution in Iran in 1979. Cultural transition is where religion provides support and a sense of community for ethnic groups such as migrants to a different country and culture. HERBERG describes this in his study of religion and immigration to the USA and religion could be said to have performed similar functions for Irish, African Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and other migrants to the UK. However BRUCE argues that religion survives in such situations only because it is a focus for group identity. Thus these examples do not disprove secularisation, but show that religion is most likely to survive where it performs functions other than relating individuals to the supernatural. For example, churchgoing declined in Poland after the fall of communism and there is evidence that religion loses importance for migrants once they are integrated into society. A spiritual revolution? Some sociologists such as HEELAS and WOODHEAD argue that a spiritual revolution is taking place today, in which traditional Christianity is giving away to holistic spiritualist or New Age beliefs and practices that emphasise personal development and subject experience. This can be seen in the spiritual market, with an explosion in the number of books about self-help and spirituality, and the many practitioners who offer consultations, courses and therapies. This research suggests that religious belief is not disappearing, but it is simply being reoriented taking a new for in which people pick and mix their spirituality from the wide range of beliefs on offer, tailored to personal experience as the only genuine source of meaning and fulfilment, rather than the received teachings and commandments of traditional religion. However HEELAS and WOODHEAS argue that spiritual revolution has not taken place. Although the holistic milieu has grown since the 1970s, its growth has not compensated for the decline of traditional religion. This suggest that there is hardly any evidence of resacrilisation or a spiritual revolution. We therefore can conclude that secularisation is occurring in Britain, because the subjective turn has undermined the basis of traditional religion. Secularisation in America FACTS
WILSON found that 45% of Americans attended church on Sundays. However he argued that churchgoing in America was more an expression of the American way of life; than of deeply held religious beliefs. WILSON claimed that America was a secular society, not because people had abandoned the churches, but because religion there had become superficial. Declining church attendance HADAWAY et al studied church attendance in Ashtabula County, Ohio. To estimate attendance, they carried out head counts at services. Then in interviews, they asked people if they attended church. They found that the level of attendance claimed by the interviewees was 83% higher than their estimates of church attendance in the county. There is evidence that this tendency to exaggerate churchgoing is a recent development. Until the 1970s, the findings of opinion polls (churchgoing stable at 40% since 1940) matched the churches own estimates, but since then the attendance gap has widened. For example, a study on attendance at Catholic mass in San Francisco found that in 1972, opinion polls exaggerated attendance by 47% but by 1996, the exaggeration had doubled to 101%. BRUCE concludes that a stable rate of self-reported attendance of about 40% has masked a decline in actual attendance in the United States. The widening gap may be due to the fact that it is still seen as socially desirable or normative to go to church, so people who have stopped going will say they attend if asked in a survey. However, Interpretivist sociologists suggest these statistics should be treated with caution for the following reasons: Statistics relating to the previous century are probably unreliable because sophisticated data collection practices were not in place. Contemporary statistics may also be unreliable because different religious organisations employ different counting methods. BELLAH argues that people who attend church are not necessarily practising religious belief and those who do believe may not see the need to attend. Religion is a private experience for many and consequently cannot be reliably or scientifically measured. Secularisation from within BRUCE argues that the way American religion has adjusted to the modern world amounts to secularisation from within. The emphasis on traditional Christian beliefs and glorifying God has declined and religion in America has become psychologised or turned into a form of therapy.
The purpose of religion has changed from seeking salvation in heaven to seeking personal improvement in this world. This decline in commitment to traditional beliefs can be seen in peoples attitudes and lifestyles. Churchgoers are now much less strict than previous in their adherence to traditional religious mortality. However, ROOF AND MCKINNEY argue that Bruce has ignored the growth of conservative Protestant religions (sometimes called the New Christian Right) which seem to combine a serious commitment to religious teachings, a strong element of theological doctrine and a refusal to compromise religious beliefs. As such, they seem to directly contradict Bruces claims about secularisation within religious institutions. Religious diversity The growth of religious diversity has also contributed to secularisation from within. Churchgoers are becoming less dogmatic in their views. BRUCE identifies a trend towards practical relativism among American Christians, involving acceptance of the view that others are entitled to hold beliefs that are different to ones own. This is shown in LYND and LYNDs study which found in 1924 that 94% of churchgoing young people agreed with the statement, Christianity is the one true religion and all people should be converted to it. However, by 1977 only 41% agreed. Practical relativism is the erosion of absolutism that is, we now live in a society where many people hold views that are completely different to ours, which undermines out assumption that our own views are absolutely true. Overall evaluation of secularisation Conclusions about the secularisation debate are only possible if there is agreement over the nature of religion and what we should include within this definition. Some sociologists define religion in terms of adherence to traditional religious beliefs and institutions such a definition is likely to lead to the conclusion that religion is in decline. However, more inclusive definitions of religion are likely to question the secularisation thesis because they can include ideas about belief in some form of spirit or life force in their definitions of religious beliefs. BRUCE argues that these vaguer claims to some sort of religious belief are themselves an indicator of growing secularisation, not of continuing religiosity it simply represents a halfway house, in which people place themselves as they move away from religious belief, but cant yet bring themselves to admit that they are non-believers. It often seems that the secularisation thesis rests on the assumption that in the past there were 'fully religious societies'. It is against such societies that our 'godless' society is then compared. There seems to have been no 'golden age of religion' in Europe, indeed can we know anyway, how could we measure
the influence of religion in the past? THOMAS argues We do not know enough about the religious beliefs and practices of our remote ancestors to be certain of the extent to which religious faith and practice have actually declined. One of the most fundamental difficulties for reaching conclusions on the secularisation debate is agreeing what secularisation means. Sociologists are likely to reach different conclusions according to whether they are looking at secularisation in terms of a decline of religious beliefs and practices, declining influence of religion in other spheres of life or secularisation within religious institutions themselves. BERGER argues that secularisation has led to a decline in the credibility of Christianity in producing a comprehensive universe of meaning, but the increasing number of sects and movements attest to the fact that religious belief still thrives. BERGER then argues that secularisation has led to religious belief being expressed in a different form, not that secularisation leads to religious decline. According to DAVIE, the secularisation theory assumes that modernisation affects every society and in the same way, causing the decline of religion and replacement of science. DAVIE argues that instead of a single version of modern society, there are multiple modernities (postmodernity). For example, Britain and America are both modern societies, but with different patterns of religion, especially in relation to church attendance . Church attendance is in fact high in America, it is low in Britain but accompanied by believing without belonging ( where people hold religious beliefs but do not see an obligation to attend church). DAVIE rejects religion will be replaced by science and that they will continue to coexist. As an alternative to the secularisation theory, which is one sided and sees the decline of religion, it ignores the growth of new religions and religious revivals. STARK and BAINBRIDGE put forward the concept of a cycle of religious decline, revival and renewal. For example, when establish churches decline, they leave a gap in the market for sects and cults to attract new followers. TOPIC 4: RELIGION, RENEWAL AND CHOICE Postmodernity and Religion Believing without belonging DAVIE is one sociologist who argues against the secularisation theory. In her view, religion is not declining but simply taking a different, more privatised form. For example, people no longer got to church because they feel they have to or because it is respectable to do so. Thus, although churchgoing has declined, this is simple because attendance is now a matter of personal choice rather than the obligation it used to be. As a result, we now have believing without belonging where people hold religious beliefs but dont go to
church. Thus, it is rather a decline in traditional religion matched with the growth of a new form of religion. DAVIE notes a trend towards vicarious religion, where a smaller number of professional clergy practise religion on behalf of a much larger number of people, who experience it at second hand. Despite low levels of attendance, many people still use church for rites of passage rituals that mark a change of status, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. For example, Reginald Bibbys Canadian survey, found that only 25% of Canadians attended church regularly. However, 80% said they had religious beliefs, identified positively with religious traditions and turned to religion for rites of passage. However, Voas and Crockett reject Davies claim that there is more believing than belonging. They use data from Social Trends which suggest that since 1983 there has been a continual decline in both attending and believing. If Davie were right, we would see higher levels of beliefs. BRUCE adds that if people are not willing to invest time in going to church, this just reflects the declining strength to their beliefs. When people no longer believe, they no longer wish to belong, and so their involvement in religion diminishes. Spiritual shopping HERVIEU-LEGER sees the decline in institutional religion in Europe as a result of cultural amnesia. For centuries, religion is no longer handed down from generation to generation through extended families and parish churches. Furthermore social equality has also undermined the traditional power of the church to impose religion on people from above. As a result, young people no longer inherit a fixed religious identity and they are ignorant of traditional religion. While institutional religion has declined, religion itself has not disappeared. Instead, individual consumerism has replaced the collective worship tradition of the past. People today feel they have a choice as consumers of religion they have become spiritual shoppers. Religion is now individualised as we develop our religions that give meaning to our lives and fits in with our interests and aspirations. It has become a person spiritual journey in which we choose the elements we wants to explore and the groups we wish to join. As a result of this, religion no longer acts as the source of collective identity that it once did.
As a result HERIVEU-LERGER argues, two new religious types are merging: Pilgrims follow an individual path in a search for self-discovery, for example, new Age spirituality by joining groups, or through individual therapy. The demand is created by todays emphasis on personal development. Converts join religious groups that offer a strong sense of belonging, usually based on a shared ethnic background or religious doctrine. Such groups re-create a sense of community in a society that has lost many of its religious traditions However, she does admit that religion still has an influence on societys values. For example, the values of equality and human rights have their roots in religion. Such values can be a source of cultural identity and social solidarity, even for those who are not actively involved in religion. Religious market theory STARK and BAINBRIDGE propose the religious market theory. The theory is based on two assumptions: 1) people are naturally religious as religion meets human needs 2) and it is human nature to seek rewards and avoid costs. As an alternative to the secularisation theory, which is one sided and sees the decline of religion, it ignores the growth of new religions and religious revivals. STARK and BAINBRIDGE put forward the concept of a cycle of religious decline, revival and renewal. For example, when establish churches decline, they leave a gap in the market for sects and cults to attract new followers. According to STARK and BAINBRIDGE, churches operate like companies selling goods in a market. However the secularisation theory sees competition between different religions and religious diversity as undermining religion. Religious market theorists take the opposite view. They argue that competition leads to improvements in the quality of the religious goods on offer. The churches that make their product attractive will succeed in attracting more customers. Meanwhile churches that are not responsive to the needs of their member will decline. America vs. Europe STARK and BAINBRIDGE believes that religion thrives in the USA because there has never been a religious monopoly there. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the separate of church and state, and there has always been a great variety of denominations to choose from. This has encouraged the growth of a healthy religious market where religion grow or decline according to consumer demand. Most European countries have been dominated by an official state church which has a religious monopoly, such as the Church of England. Competition has been held
back and the lack of choice has led to decline. STARK and BAINBRIDGE concludes that the main factor influencing the level of religious participation is not the demand for religion, as secularisation theory suggests, but the supply. Participation increases when there is an ample supply of religious groups to choose from, but declines when supply is restricted. Also based on their comparison of America and Europe, STARK and BAINBRIDGE argue that the decline of religion is not a universal trend happening in all societies, as secularisation theory puts. Supply-led religion HADDEN AND SHUPE argue that the growth of televangelism in America shows that the level of religious participation is supply-led. When commercial funding of religious broadcasts began in the 1960s, it opened up competition in which evangelical churches thrived. As a commercial enterprise, televangelism responded to consumer by preaching prosperity gospel. NORRIS AND INGLEHART rejects religious market theory on the grounds that it only applies to America and fails to explain the variations in religiosity between different societies. International studies have found no evidence of the link between religious choice and religious participation. NORRIS and INGLEHART argue that the reason for variations in religious between societies is not different degrees of religious choice, but different degrees of existential security the feeling that survival is secure enough that it can be taken for granted. Demand is greatest from low-income groups and societies because they are less secure. This explains why poor Third World countries remain religious, while prosperous Western countries have become more secular. NORRIS AND INGLEHART show that high levels of religious participation exist in Catholic countries where the church has a near monopoly, such as Ireland and Venezuela. By contrasts countries with religious pluralism, such as Holland Australia, often have low levels of participation. This contradicts Stark and Bainbridges theory. BRUCE rejects the view that diversity and competition increase the demand for religion. Statistics show that diversity has been accompanied by religious decline in both Europe and America. BECKFORD criticises religious market theory as unsociological because it assumes people are naturally religious and fails to explain why they make the choices they do. Existential security theory NORRIS AND INGLEHART argues that the reason for variations in religiosity between societies is not different degrees of religious but degrees of existential security. Poor societies where people face life-threatening risks such as famine, disease and environmental disasters, have high levels of insecurity and thus high levels of religiosity. Poor people with live in rich societies also face greater insecurity and are therefore more religious
than rich people in those societies. Rich societies where people have high standard of living and are at less risk, have greater sense of security and thus lower levels of religiosity. NORRIS and INGLEHART note that global population growth undermines the trend towards secularisation. Rich, secure, secular Western countries have low levels of population growth, whereas poor, insecure, religious Third World countries have high rates. As a result while rich countries are becoming more secular, the majority of the world is becoming more religious. By comparison with Europe, the untied states remains much more religious. NORRIS and INGLE HART argue that this is because America is also the most important unequal of the rich societies, with an inadequate welfare safety-net. This creates high levels of poverty and insecurity, which creates a greater need for religion. State welfare and religiosity GILL and LUNDEGAARDE, found that the more a country spends on welfare, the lower the level of religious participation. Thus European countries, which spend more than the USA, are also more secular than the USA. They also note that in the past religious used to provide welfare for the poor, and still does so in poorer countries. However, from the 20 th century, the state in the West began to provide welfare and this contributes to religions decline. Evaluation VASQUEZ accepts that Norris and Inglehart offer a valuable explanation of different levels of religious participation not only in Europe and the USA, but globally. However, they use only quantitative data about income levels; they dont examine peoples own definition of existential security. VASQUEZ argues that qualitative research is also needed. However, sociologist they do not expect religion to disappear completely, because although welfare provision meets the need for security, it does not answer ultimate questions about the meaning of life, unlike religion. Norris and Inglehart only see religion as a negative response to deprivation. They ignore the positive reasons people have for religious participation and the appeal that some types of religion have for the wealthy. TOPIC 5: RELIGION IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT Religion and development God and globalisation in India Hinduism and consumerism Globalisation has created a huge and prosperous scientifically educated, urban middle class in
India, working in IT, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors closely tied into the global economy. These are precisely the people whom secularisation theory predicts will be the first to abandon religion in favour of a secular worldview. However NANDA observes a vast majority of this class continue to believe in the supernatural. A survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies found that Indians are becoming more religious. Only 5% said their religiosity has declined in the last 5 years. They survey also found that urban educated Indian are more religious than their rural and illiterate counterparts. Another feature of this middle-class religiosity is that they are attracted to what were once low-status village gods and goddesses worshipped by the poor. NANDA rejects insecurity as an explanation of their religiosity, because they are not poor. She also rejects that their religiosity is a defensive reaction to modernisation and Westernisation as fundamentalist theorist would claim. Indian middle classes are optimistic about the opportunities that globalisation brings them. Instead, Nanda argues that their increasing religiosity is the result of their uncertainty about their newfound wealth. This stems from a tension between the traditional Hindu belief in renunciation of materialism and worldly desires, and the new prosperity of the middle classes. This is resolved for them by business-friendly version of Hinduism whom they turn to, that preach the message that desire is not bad, but rather a manifestation of divinity that motivates people to do things. Modern versions of Hinduism edge the guilt off and legitimate the position of the middle class and allow them to adjust to globalised consumer capitalism. Hindu ultra-nationalism NANDA notes that Indias success in the global market is attributed to the superiority of Hindu values a view promoted by the media and politicians. In this Hindu-ultra-nationalism, the worship of Hindu gods has been the same as worshipping the nation of India and Hinduism has become a civil religion. For example, in education Hindu sciences such as astrology are being taught as an academic subject in public universities and being used to supposedly predict earthquakes and natural disasters. However has created a widening guld between non-Hindus and Hindus. Capitalism in East Asia In the recent decades the so called east Asian tiger economies such as South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan, have successfully industrialised and become significant players in the global economy.
The success of capitalism in East Asia has led some sociologist to argue that religion has played a role similar to the one Calvinism played in the development of capitalism in 16th and 17th century Europe. REDDING describes the spirit of capitalism among Chinese entrepreneurs in the tiger economies. Their 'post-Confucian- values as encouraged hard work, discipline, and a commitment to education and self-improvement. Such ethic leads to economic productivity and the accumulation of capital. Pentecostalism in Latin America BERGER also argues that Pentecostalism in Latin America acts as a functional equivalent to WEBERS Protestant ethic. It encourages the development of capitalism today in the same way as Calvinism did. Latin America Pentecostalists embrace a similar work ethic which demands an ascetic (Self-denying) way of life that emphasises personal discipline, hard work and abstinence from alcohol. In this way, it encourages its members to prosper and become upwardly mobile. BERGER concludes that Pentecostalism has a strong affinity with modern capitalism. Thus in Chile and Brazil, there is a now growing and prosperous Pentecostalist middle class leading capitalism development. However, Berger underlines Webers point that religious ideas alone are not enough to produce economic development natural resources are also needed. For example, while Pentecostalism has grown in northern Brazil, the region lacks resources and remains backward. By contrast, the south, which is developing rapidly, has both a work ethic derived from Pentecostalism and the necessary resources. Pentecostalism: global and local In the last five centuries, Christianity has globalised itself by expanding out of Europe. LEHMANN attributes the success of Pentecostalism as a global religion in part of its ability to plug into and incorporate local beliefs. Although it preachers a similar message worldwide, it uses imager and symbolism drawn from local cultures and existing religious beliefs, especially from spirit possession cults. As a result of this ability to adapt to local customs and establish a local identify, Pentecostalism shows considerable local diversity in different parts of the world. For example, Africanisation of Christianity in Africa rather than the total disappearance of the religion.
Pentecostalism has also been successful in developing countries because it is able to appeal particularly to the poor who make up the vast majority of the population, and because it uses global communications media to spread its message, along with road shows and world tours by celebrity preachers. Religious fundamentalism Fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism According to GIDDENS, fundamentalist are traditionalists who seek to return to the basics or fundamentals of their faith. They believe unquestioningly in the literal and infallible truth of scripture and that it provides answers to all lifes important questions, from politics to family life. They believe theirs is the only true view of the world. They justify their views by reference to dogma and sacred texts rather than rational argument. GIDDENS notes that fundamentalism growth as a product of and reaction to globalisation, which undermined traditional social norms concerning the nuclear family, gender and sexuality. In todays late modern society, individuals are constantly faced with choice, uncertainty and risk. The attraction of fundamentalism and its rigid, dogmatic beliefs is the certainty that it promises in an uncertain world. It is a retreat into faith-based answers and away from The globalising world that demands rational reasons. GIDDEN contrasts fundamentalism with cosmopolitanism - a way of thinking that embraces modernity and is in keeping with todays globalising world. Cosmopolitanism is tolerant of the views of others and open to new ideas, constantly reflecting on and modifying beliefs in the light of new information (reflexive thinking). Cosmopolitan religion and spirituality emphasises the pursuit of personal meaning and self-improvement rather than submission to authority. GIDDENS sees fundamentalism as the enemy of cosmopolitanism and modernity. Evaluation of postmodernity and fundamentalism In a similar argument to that of Giddens, BAUMAN (1992) sees fundamentalism as a response to living in postmodernity. Postmodern society brings freedom of choice, uncertainty and a heightened awareness of risk, undermining the old certainties about how to live that were grounded
in tradition. In this situation, while some embrace the new freedom, others are attracted to fundamentalism by its claims of absolute truth and certainty CASTELLS distinguishes between two responses of post modernity: Resistant identity a defensive reaction of those who feel threatened and retreat into fundamentalist communities. Project identity the response of those who are forward-looking and engage with social movements such as feminism and environmentalism. GIDDEN lumps all types of fundamentalism together, ignoring important differences between them. GIDDEN description of fundamentalism as a defensive reaction to modernity ignored the fact that reinventing tradition is also a modern reflexive activity. HAYNES argues that we should not focus narrowly on the idea that Islamic fundamentalism is a reaction against globalisation. For example, in the Middle East, conflicts caused by the failure of local elites to deliver their promises to improve the standard of living are often the fuel that drives fundamentalism. BRUCE regards fundamentalism as being confined to monotheistic religions that is those, believing in a single almighty God such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Polytheistic religions that believe in the existence of many gods, such as Hinduism, are unlikely to produce fundamentalism. In BRUCEs, view, this is because monotheistic religions are based on a notion of Gods will and actual revealed through a single, authoritative sacred text such as the Quran or the Bible which lay down specific rules to follow. By contrast, polytheistic religions lack a single all-powerful deity and a single authoritative text, so there is much more scope for different interpretation and lack of overriding legitimate truth. For example, Hinduism has been described as being more like a collection of religion than just one. BRUCE sees fundamentalism as having different origins although they share the same characteristics. He illustrates this distinction with the examples of Protestant Christian and Islamic fundamentalisms: In the west, fundamentalism is most often a reaction to change taking place within a society, especially the trends towards diversity and choice typical to late modern or post modern societies. For example, the New Christian Right in America has developed in opposition to family abortion rights, secular education and the privatisation of religion and restore it to the public role where it can shape the laws and morals of wider society. In the third world, fundamentalism is usually a reaction to changes being thrust upon a society from outside, as in the case of Islamic revolution in Iran. It is triggered by modernisation and globalisation, in which Western values are imposed by foreign capitalism or by local elites supported by
the West. Here, fundamentalism involves resistance to the states attempt to sideline it and confine it to the private sphere. Cultural defence Cultural defence is where religion serves to unite community against an external threat. In such situation, religion has special significance for its followers because it symbolises the group or societys collective identity. Defending the community against a threat often gives religion prominent role in politics. Poland Poland wad under communist rule, imposed from outside by the Soviet Union. The Catholic Church for many Poles continued to embody Polish national identity. It served as a popular rallying point for opposition to the Soviet Union and the Polish communist party. In particular its active support to the Solidarity free trade union movement in the 1980s, did much to bring about the fall of communism. After the church regained public role and has had significant influence on Polish politics since the 1980s. Iran Western capital powers and oil companies had long had influence in Iran, including involvement in the illegal overthrow of a democratic government in the 1950s to install a pro-Western regime headed by the Shah of Iran. During the 1960s and 70s, his successor had embarked on a policy of modernisation and Westernisation. This included banning the veil. Under these conditions, Islam became the focus for resistance to the Shahs regime, led by clerics such as the Ayatollah Khomeini. The revolution of 1979 brought the creation of the Islamic Republic. Religion and the clash of civilisations In recent years, religion has been at the centre of a number of global conflicts. These include the 9/1 1 Islamist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 and subsequent bombings in London. These are symptoms of what Huntington sees as a wider clash of civilisations. This is particularly true in todays globalised world, because religious differences have now become a major source of identity, for example with the fall of communism, political differences between nations have become less important as a source of identity. In HUNTINGTONs view, religious differences are creating anew set of hostile us and them relationships, with increased competition between civilisation for economic and military power. HUNTINGTON believes the West is under threat, especially from Islam, and predicts growing conflict between the West and the rest. He fears the emergence of new anti-Western military alliances, for example between Confucian and Islamic civilisations, and urges the West to reassert its Christian identity. Criticisms
JACKSON sees Huntingtons work as an example of orientalism a western ideology that stereotypes Eastern nations and people (especially Muslims) as untrustworthy, inferior or fanatical Others and served to justify exploitation and human rights abuses by the West. CASAVONA argues that Huntington ignored the important religion division within the civilisations he identifies e.g. between Sunni and Shia Islam. HORRIE and CIPPINDALE see the clash of civilisations as a grossly misleading neo-conservative ideology that portrays the whole of Islam as an enemy. In reality, only a tiny minority of the worlds 1.5 Muslims are remotely interested in a holy war against the West. ARMSTRONG argues that hostility towards the West does not stem from fundamentalist Islam, but is a reaction to Western foreign policy in the Middle East. The West has propped up oppressive regimes and continues to support Israel despite its aggressive treatment of Palestinians. INGLEHART and NORRIS conclude that the issue that divides the West from the Muslim world is not democracy but sexuality. They find that support for democracy is similarly high in both the West and Muslim world, but there are great differences when it comes to attitudes to divorce, abortion, gender equality and gay rights. There is no global agreement about self-expression values, such as tolerance of diversity, gender equality and freedom of speech. In their view, these different values constitute the real clash of civilisation between Muslim Societies and the West (The real clash of civilisation) TOPIC 6: ORGANISATIONS, MOVEMENTS AND MEMBERS Types of religious organisation Church and sect TROELTSCH distinguishes between to main types of religious the church and the sect. Churches are large organisations, often with million of members such as the Catholic Church, run by a bureaucratic hierarchy of professional priests, and the claim a monopoly of the truth. They are universalistic, aiming to include the whole society, although they tend to be more attractive to the higher classes. Sects are hostile to wider society and they expect a high level of commitment. They draw their members from the poor and oppressed. Many are led by a charismatic leader rather than a bureaucratic hierarchy. The only similarity with churches is that sects too believe they have a monopoly of religious truth. Denomination and cult NIEBUHR describes denominations such as Methodism as lying midway between churches and sects. Membership is less exclusive than a sect, but they dont appeal to the whole of society like a church. Like churches, the broadly accept societys values, but are not
linked to the state. They impose some minor restrictions on members, such as forbidding alcohol, but are not as demanding as sects. A cult is highly individualist, loose-knit and usually small grouping around some shared themes and interests, but usually without a sharply defined and exclusive belief system. Cults are usually led by practioner or therapist who claims special knowledge. Like denominations, cults are tolerant of other organisations and their beliefs. Cults do not demands strong commitment from followers, who are often more like customers or trainees than members. Many cults are world-affirming, claiming to improve life in this world. Sociologist argue that some of the above descriptions of religious organisations do not fit todays reality. BRUCE argues that TROELTSCHs idea of a church as having a religious monopoly only applies to the Catholic Church before the 16 th century Protestant Reformations, when it had religious monopoly over society, symbolised by its massive and imposing cathedrals. Since then, sects and cults have flourished and religious diversity has become the norm. In todays society, churches are no longer truly churches in TROELTSCHs sense because they have lost their monopoly and been reduced to the status of denominations competing with all the rest. New religious movements WALLIS categorises new religious movements (nrms) in three groups based on their relationship to the outside world whether they reject the world, accommodate to it, or affirm it. World-rejecting NRMS These are similar to sects. Examples include the Moonies, Krishna Consciousness, Children of God, the Mansion Family, the Branch Davidian and the Peoples Temple. They have several characteristics: They are clearly religious organisation with a clear notion of God. They are highly critical of the outside world and that expects or seeks radical change. World-accommodating NRMs These are often breakaways from existing mainstream churches or denominations, such as neo-Pentecostalists who split from Catholicism, or Subud, an offshoot of Islam. They neither accept nor reject the world, and they focus on religious rather than worldly matters, seeking to restore the spiritual purity in religion. World-affirming NRMs They may lack some of the conventional features of religion, such as collective worship, and some are not highly organised. However, like religions, they offer their followers access to spiritual or supernatural powers. Examples include Scientology and Soka Gakkai. They accept the world as it is. They are optimistic and promise followers success in terms of mainstream goals and values, such as careers and personal relationships. They are non-exclusive and
tolerant of other religions, but claim to offer additional special knowledge or techniques that enable followers to unlock their own spiritual powers and achieve success or overcome problems such as unhappiness or illness. WALLIS offers a useful way of classifying the new religious movements that have developed in recent decades. However, some argue that it is not clear whether he is categorising them according to the movements teachings or individual members beliefs. He also ignored the diversity of beliefs that may exist within an NRM. WALLIS himself recognises that real NRMs will rarely fit into his typology (list of types) and some, such as 3HO (The Healthy Happy Holy Organisation), may have some features of all three types. Nevertheless, many sociologists find such typologies useful as a way of analysing and comparing the significant features of NRMs. However, STARK and BAINBRIDGE reject the idea of constructing such typologies altogether. Instead, they argue that we should distinguish between religious organisations using just one criterion - the degree of conflict or tension between the religious group and wider society. Sects and cults STARK and BAINBRIDGE identifies two organisations that are in conflict with wider society. Sects result from schism splits in existing organisations. They break away from churches usually because of disagreements about doctrine. Cults are new religions, such as Scientology and Christian science, or ones new to that particular society that have been imports, such as TM. They see sects as promising other-worldly benefits (like heaven) to those suffering economic deprivation or ethical deprivation (where there values conflict with wider society). By contrasts cults tend to offer this worldly benefits (like good health) to more prosperous individuals who are suffering psychic deprivation (normlessness) and organismic deprivation (health problems). STARK and BAINBRIDGE subdivide cults according to how organised they are. These include Audience cults, Client cults, Cultic movements (page 51). Although the make some useful distinctions between organisations, their idea of using the degree of conflict with wider society to distinguish between them is similar to TORELTSCHs distinction between church (which accepts society) and sect (which rejects society). In fact some of the example used, do not fit in any of their categories. Explaining the growth of religious movements Marginality TROELTSCH notes, sects tend to draw their members from the poor and oppressed. WEBER also notes sects tend to arise in
groups who are marginal to society. Such groups may feel that they are disprivileged that is, that they are not receiving their jut economic rewards or social status. WEBER argues that sects offer a solution to this problem by offering their members a theodicy of disprivilege that is, a religious explanation and justification for their suffering and disadvantage. This may explain their misfortune as a test of faith, for example, while holding out the promise of rewards in the future for keeping the faith. For example, in the 20 th century the Nation of Islam (the Black Muslims) recruited successfully among disadvantaged blacks in the USA. However, since the 1960s, the sect-like world-rejecting NRMs such as the Moonies have recruited mainly from more affluent groups of often well-educated young, middle-class whites. However WALLIS argues that this does not contradict WEBERs view, because many of these individuals had become marginal to society. Despite their middle class origins, most were hippies, dropouts and drug users. Relative deprivation Relative deprivation refers to the subjective sense of being deprives. This means that it perfectly possible for someone who is in reality quite privileged nevertheless to feel that they are deprived or disadvantages in some way compared to others. Although middle class people are materially well off, they may feel spiritually deprived, especially in todays materialistic, consumerist world, which they may perceive as impersonal and lacking in moral value, emotional warmth or authenticity. As a result, WALLIS argues, they may turn to sects for a sense of community. STARK and BAINBRIDGE argue that it is the relatively deprived who break away from churches to form sects. When middle-class members of a church seek to compromise its beliefs in order to fit into society, deprived members are likely to break away to form sects that safeguard the original message of the organisation. The deprived may stress Christs claim that it is harder for a richer man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. By contrast, the deprived may want to emphasise Christs message that the meek shall inherit the earth. STARK and BAINBRIDGE argues that world-rejecting sects offer to the deprived the compensators that they need for the rewards they are denied in this world. By contrast, the privileged need no compensator or world-rejecting religion. They are attracted to world-accepting churches that express their status and bring them further success in achieving earthly
rewards. Social change WILSON argues that periods of rapid chance disrupt and undermine established norms and values, producing anomie or normlessness. In response to the uncertainty and insecurity that this creates, those who are most affected by the disruption may turn to sects as a solution. For example, the dislocation created by the industrial revolution in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th century led to the birth of Methodism, which offered a sense of community, warmth and fellowship, clear norms and values, and the promise of salvation. Methodism succeeded in recruiting large numbers of the new industrial working class. BRUCE sees the growth of cults as a response to the social changes involved in modernisation and secularisation. Because society is now secularised people are less attracted to the traditional churched and strict sects, because these demand too much commitment. Instead, people now prefer cults because they are less demanding and require fewer sacrifices. The growth of NRMS According to WALLIS, social changes from the 1960s had a lot of impact on young people, including the increased time spent in education. This gave them freedom from adult responsibilities and enabled a drug/pop counter-culture to develop. Also, the growth of radical political movements offered alternative ideas about the future. World-rejecting NRMS were attractive in this context because they offered young people a more idealistic way of life. BRUCE argues that it was the failure of the counter-culture to change the world that led to disillusioned youth turning to religion instead. BRUCE argues that world-affirming growth is a response to modernity, especially to the rationalisation of work. Work no longer provides meaning or a source of identity unlike the past; when the Protestant ethic gave work a religious meaning for some people. Yet at the same time, we are expected to achieve even though we may lack opportunities to succeed. World-affirming NRMS provide both a sense of identity and
techniques that promise success in this world. Why are sects thought to be short-lived ? Sects are suggested to either have two routes: Denomination or death Barker (1989) suggested that, particularly in world-rejecting new religious movements, the heavy commitment required is hard to maintain NIEBUHR argues that sects are world-rejecting organisations that come into existence because of schism. NIEBUHR argues that sects are short-lived and that within generation, they either die out, or they compromise with the world, abandon their extreme ideas and become a denomination. There are several reasons for this: The second generation, who are born into the sect, lack the commitment and fervour of their parents, who had consciously rejected the world and joined voluntarily. The Protestant ethic effect, sects that practise ascetism (hard work and saving) tend to become prosperous and upwardly mobile, as was the case with the Methodists in the 19th century. Such members will be tempted to compromise with the world, so they will either leave or it will abandon its world-rejecting beliefs. The death of the leader. Sects with a charismatic leader either collapse on the leaders death or a more formal bureaucratic leadership takes over, transforming it into a denomination. Evaluation of sects development STARK and BAINBRIDGE sees religious organisations such as sects moving through a cycle rather then just becoming a sect. In the first stage, schism, there is a tension between the needs of deprived and privileged members of a church. Deprived members break away to found a world-rejecting sect. The second stage is one of initial fervour, with a charismatic leadership and great tension between the sects beliefs and those of wider society. In the third stage, denominationalism, the Protestant ethic effect and the coolness of the second establishment, sees the sect become more world accepting and tension with wider society reduces. In the final stage, further schism results when more zealous or less privileged members break away to found a new sect true to the original message. WILSON argues that not all sects follow this cycles patterns and this all depends on the question What shall we do to be saved? For example, Conversionist sects such as evangelicals, whose aim is to convert large numbers of people (therefore likely to accommodate needs), are likely to grow rapidly into larger, more formal denominations. . Should they be successful, and win a lot of support, they may turn into a denomination, but this doesnt prevent them carrying on as they were when they were a small sect. The Salvation Army is an example of a small former Conversionist sect that has turned into a Conversionist denomination. However introversions sects are less likely to become a denomination. Adventist sects such as Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovahs Witnesses await the second Coming of
Christ. Trying to convert people by going outside the sect to preach is likely to be a polluting and corrupting experience which may hinder them from being saved. Such sects therefore cannot survive in denominational form. They may try to spread their beliefs, but there can be no question of compromise with the world, watering down of beliefs, or tolerance of other beliefs, as otherwise they would be counted among the sinners and cast aside when Judgement Day arrives. Such sects cannot take on denominational form and compromise with other beliefs without abandoning the very beliefs and values and exclusivity on which their own sect is founded. WILSON goes on to argue that some sects have survived over many generations, sects like Adventists, Pentecostalists, the Amish, Mormons and Quakers for example. Instead of becoming denominations, these groups become established sects. Contrary to Niebuhrs predictions, many of them have succeeded in socialising their children into a high level of commitment, largely by keeping them apart from the wider world. However WILSON argues that globalisation will make it harder in future for sects to keep themselves separate from the outside world. On the other hand, globalisation will make it easier to recruit in the Third World, where there are large numbers of deprived people for whom the message of sects is attractive, as the success of Pentecostalist has shown. The growth of the New Age They term New Age cover a range of beliefs and activities that have been widespread since at least the 1980s. Many of them are very loosely organised audience or client cults. HEELAS there are two common themes that characterise the New Age: Self-spirituality new agers seeking the spiritual have turned away from traditional external religions such as the churches and instead look inside themselves to find it. Detraditionalisation the New Age rejects the spiritual authority of external traditional sources such as priests or sacred texts. Instead it values personal experience and believes that we can discover the truth of ourselves and within ourselves. Beyond these common features, New Age beliefs vary. For example, they include world-affirming aspects that help people succeed in the everyday outer world, as well as world-rejecting elements that allow individuals to achieve enlightenment in their inner world. However, HEELAS argues that most New Age beliefs and organisations offer both. Postmodernity and the New Age DRANE argues that the New Age is a part of a shift towards modernity. One of the features of postmodern society is a loss of faith in met-narratives or claims to have the truth. Science promised to bring progress to a better world but instead it has given us war, genocide, environment destruction and global warming. As a result, people
have lost faith in experts and professional such as scientist and doctors, and they are disillusioned with the churches failure to meet their spirituality needs. As a result, they are turning to the New Age idea that each of us can find the truth for ourselves by looking within. Evaluation of Postmodernity New Age BRUCE argues that the growth of the New Age is a feature of the latest phase of modern society, and not postmodernity. Modern society values individualism, which is also a key principle of New Age beliefs (the idea each individual has the truth within themselves) It is also an important value among those in the expressive professions concerned with human potential, such as social workers or artist (they appeal most to the New Age). BRUCE notes that New Age beliefs are often softer versions of much more demanding and self-disciplined traditional Eastern religions such as Buddhism that have been watered down to make them palatable to self-centred Westerners. This explains why New Age activities are often audience or client cults, since these make few demands on their followers. BRUCE sees the New Age eclecticism or pick and mix spiritual shopping as typical of religion in late modern society, reflecting the consumerist ethos of capitalist society. HEELAS sees New Age and modernity linked in four ways: A source of identity In modern society, the individual has many different roles but there is little overlap between them, resulting in a fragmented identity. New age beliefs offer a source of authentic identity. Consumer culture Modernity creates dissatisfaction because it never delivers the perfection it promises. The New Age offers an alternative way to achieving perfection. Rapid social change in modern society disrupts established norms and values, resulting in anomie. The New Age provides a sense of certainty and truth in the same way as sects. Decline of organised religion Modernity leads to secularisation, thereby removing the tradition alternative to the New Age beliefs. For example, in the USA, the New Age is strongest where churchgoing is at its lowest in California. Religiosity and social groups Gender and religiosity While the priesthood of most religions are male, more women than men participate in religious activities and believe in God, sin, evil, the Devil and life after death. For example, in 2005, 1.8 million women in England were churchgoers, as against only 1.36 million men. BRUCE estimates that there are twice as many women as men involved in sects. HEELAS and WOODHEAD found that 80% of participants in the holistic milieu in Kendal were female. These differences may
also be connected to differences in the way men and women see God as the God of power and control, or as the God of love and forgiveness. Reason for gender differences Socialisation and gender role MILLER and HOFFMAN, argues women are more religious because they are socialised to be more passive, obedient and caring. These are qualities valued by most religions, so it follows that women are more likely than men to be attracted to religion. Interestingly, men who have these qualities are also more likely to be religious. MILLER and HOFFMAN note that women are more likely than men to work part-time or to be full-time carers, so they have more scope for organising their time to participate in religious activities. Women are also more likely to be attracted to the church as a source of gender identity, and GREELEY argues that taking care of other family member increases womens religiosity because it involved responsibility for their ultimate welfare as well as their everyday needs. DAVIE argues that womens closer proximity to birth and death brings them closer to ultimate questions about the meaning of life that religion is concerned with. This also fits with differences in the way men and women see God. This is because of their biological involvement through childbirth, and through their greater participation in paid caring jobs, for example as teachers, nurses, social workers and care assistants, and as informal carers of children, the elderly, the disabled and the sick and the dying in the family. DAVIE suggests that these factors give women a closer association with birth and death than men, and these are also central issues for many religions. They make women more aware of the vulnerability of human life, and more attuned to the spiritual dimensions of human existence. Guardians of family life Women are often expected to be the guardians of family life, defenders of tradition in the family and to take on the major responsibilities for looking after the home, family and children. HALMAN and DRAULANS note that these roles give women a greater focus on the family, and it is women, rather than men, who are more likely to feel it necessary to take charge of their childrens moral development and to introduce them to approved social values, including religious beliefs. Life expectancy Women live longer than men, and this means they are more likely to be widowed and living on their own as they grow older. They may therefore turn to religion as a source of support and comfort, and as a means of building support networks in their communities. Status frustration - Status frustration may be experienced by some women, who lack personal fulfilment or status as a result of being confined to the home by the constraints of housework and childcare, or are in unsatisfying lower-middle-class jobs, which are mainly done by women. Religious participation, particularly in religious sects or New Age cults, may help to overcome or compensate for this.
Women And the New Age As women are more often associated with nature and a healing role; they may be more attracted than men to New Age movements. HEELAS and WOODHEAD found that 80% of the participants in the holistic milieu in Kendal were female. This is because such movements often celebrate the natural and involve cults of healing, which gives women a higher status and sense of selfworth. BRUCE argues that womens experiences of child-rearing make them less aggressive and goal-oriented, and more cooperative and caring where men whish to achieve, women wish to feel. In his view, this fits the expressive emphasis of the New Age. These include ideas such as Gaia (Mother Earth as a living entity), natural solutions and therapies associated with well-being like herbalism, yoga and meditation horoscopes, astrology, fortune-telling and tarot, which GLENDINNING AND BRUCE found appealed far more to women than men. Women may also be attracted to the New Age because it emphasises the importance of being authentic rather than merely acting out roles including gender roles. Women may be more attracted than men by this as they are more likely to perceive their ascribed roles as restrictive. BROWN argues that New Age self religious those that emphasise subjective experience rather than external authority appeal to womens wish for autonomy and attract women recruits. One the other hand, however, some women may be attracted to fundamentalism because of the certainties of a traditional gender role that it prescribes for them. Deprivation - GLOCK and STARK argue that people may participate in religion because of the compensators for social, organismic and ethical deprivation it offers. GLOCK and STARK argue that these forms of deprivation are all more common among women and this explains higher level of sect membership: Organismic deprivation This stems from physical and mental health problems. Women are more likely to suffer ill health and thus seek healing through religion. Ethical deprivation Women ten to be more morally conservative. They are thus more likely to regard the world as being in moral decline and be attracted to sects, which often share this view. Social deprivation Women are more likely to be poor. This may explain why there are more women than men in sects, since these attract poorer groups. Despite the traditional gender differences in participation, there is evidence that women are now leaving the church at a faster rate than men. BRIERLEY notes the drastic; decline in churchgoing among women aged between 30-45, with a 16.4% fall in Sunday church attendance between 1990 and 2005. He suggests that this may because pressures of home, family and work are very intense.
BROWN argues since the 1960s, women have begun to reject traditional subordinate gender roles. Because Christianity was closely bound up with these traditional roles, womens rejection of subordination ha sled them to reject traditional religion at the same time. Ethnicity and religiosity Although the biggest religious group are those describing themselves as Christians, there are significant numbers of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, almost all of whom belong to ethnic minorities originating in the Indian subcontinent, while many Christians are of black African or Caribbean origin. Reasons for ethnic differences Cultural defence BRUCE argues that religion in such situations offers support and a sense of cultural identity in an uncertain or hostile environment. BIRD notes, religion among minorities can be a basis for community solidarity, a means of preserving ones culture and language, a way of coping with oppression in a racist society. In the case of Black African and Caribbean Christians, many found that white churched in the UK did not actively welcome them and some turned to founding or joining black-led churched, especially Pentecostal churches. Mosques and Sikh temples, for example, are community centres as well as places of worship, and provide a focus for social life as well as a means of protecting and promoting cultural values and traditions which may be under threat by the dominant white culture. DAVIE suggests that higher levels of religiosity help to maintain tradition, group cohesion and community solidarity. Religion in minority ethnic groups can provide individuals with many markers of identity, such as their customs, dress and food, and also rituals and festivals, such as Divali (Hindus and Sikhs) or Ramadan and AI-Hijra (the Muslim new year). By asserting an identity drawn from religious elements of their cultures, members can resist the denial of status and the devaluing of their own culture by racism. Cultural transition Religion can also be a means of easing the transition into a new culture by providing support and a sense of community for minority groups in their new environment. This is the explanation HERBERG gives for high levels of religious participation among first-generation immigrants in the USA. BRUCE sees a similar pattern in history of immigration into the UK, where religion has provided a focal point for Irish, African Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and other communities. PRYCE study of the African Caribbean community in Bristol shows both cultural defence and cultural transitions have been important. He argues that Pentecostalism is a highly adaptive religion of the oppressed that provided migrants with values of appropriate to the new world in which they
found themselves. Pentecostalism helped African Caribbeans to adapt to British society, playing a kind of Protestant ethic role in helping its members succeed by encouraging self-reliance and thrift. It gave people mutual support and hope of improving their situation. On the other hand, Rastafarianism represented a difference response for some African Caribbeans radically rejecting the wider society as racist and exploitative. Age and religious participation Young people are undoubtedly less religious in terms of their expressed religious belief in surveys and their participation in the mainstream Christian religions. Ages differences in religion The ageing effect This is the view that people turn to religion as they get older. Using evidence form the Kendal Project, HEELAS argues that people become more interested in spirituality as the get older. As we approach death, we naturally become more concerned about spiritual matters and the afterlife, repentance of past misdeeds and so on. As a result, we are more likely to go to church. The generation effect This is the view that as society become more secular, each new generation is less religious than the one before. Thus, there are more old people than young people in church congregations today, not because they are more attracted to religion as they get older, but simply because they grew up at a time when religion was more popular. VOAS and CROCKETT argue that the generational effect is the more significant of the two explanations. They claim that each generation is half as religious as their parents. If so, we can expect a continuing rise in the average age of church-goers as the young become less and less willing to attend. Disengagement Disengagement means that, as people get older, they become detached from the integrating mechanisms of society, such as participation in workplaces through paid employment. Older people may face a growing privatization of their lives, with increasing social isolation as partners and friends die. Participation in religious organizations provides a form of social support in this situation, and a network of people to relate to. Constraints The mainstream religious organizations are very unattractive to most young people. In many cases, they find services to be boring, repetitive and old-fashioned, full of old people, and out-oftouch with the styles and attitudes of younger people. Controversies in religion over issues like abortion, contraception, the ordination of women priests and bishops, gay priests and gay rights in general, sex before marriage and so on seem bizarre to many young people, and alien to the values they hold. Declining religious education BRUCE points out that the Church of England is increasingly unable to recruit young people by socializing them into religious thinking through such things as church Sunday schools or religious education. Sunday schools are in a state of terminal decline Christian Research says that a century ago over half of all children attended a Sunday school, but by 2000 this had reduced to just 1 in 25 children. Pragmatic reasons - There is also a range of possible more practical or pragmatic explanations for the decline of religious belief and commitment among the young. Leisure has become a much bigger part of life, and shops, clubs and pubs all open for very long hours, including Sundays. Young people have more demands on their time, and they may simply have more interesting and enjoyable things to do. It is also seen as very uncool to be religious in many young peer groups, which exerts social pressure not to be religious.
Meanwhile, about 30% of churchgoers are now over 65. BRUCE predicts that this trend will continue and that it wont be long before the over 65s become the majority. The only exception of this trend is the Pentecostal churches, which continue to attract young members. GILL notes that children are no longer receiving a religious socialisation, and those brought up with religious beliefs are less likely to become churchgoers later in life. If so, it is likely that within two generations, Christian beliefs will only be held by a small minority. LYNCH suggests that young people may be turning away from conventional ideas of religion as there is now what ROOF called an expanded spiritual marketplace. This involves growing exposure and accessibility to a wide diversity of religious and spiritual ideas. These have opened up new avenues for exploring religion and spirituality. Lynch suggests that these have meant there are now more sources for young people to draw on to build religious and spiritual beliefs, identities and lifestyles, and these may be finding expression outside traditional religions and religious organisations. Young people may be choosing to treat their religion, of whatever faith or mix of beliefs, as a private matter. Even if they have some general spiritual or religious beliefs, they may not feel they belong to any particular religion, or hold any specific religious belief. They may prefer not to make any public display of whatever they believe through involvement in religious organizations, or admit to them in surveys. DAVIE expressed this in the words believing without belonging. BRUCE points out that the Church of England is increasingly unable to recruit young people by socializing them into religious thinking through such things as church Sunday schools or religious education. Sunday schools are in a state of terminal decline Christian Research says that a century ago over half of all children attended a Sunday school, but by 2000 this had reduced to just 1 in 25 children. If the current rate of decline continues, there will be hardly any Sunday schools left by 2016. TOPIC 7: IDEOLOGY AND SCIENCE Science as a belief system The impact of science Its achievements in medicine have eradicated many once fatal diseases. Many basic features of daily life today transport, communications, work and leisure would be unrecognisable to our recent ancestors due to scientific and technological development. Science and technology have revolutionised economic productivity and raised our standard of living. This has led to a widespread faith in science a belief that it can deliver the goods. Science can also cause problems. Pollution, global warming and weapons of mass destruction are as much a product of science and technology as are space flight, wonder drugs and the internet. While science may have helped to protect us from natural dangers such as disease and famine, it has created its own manufactured risks that threaten the planet. One key feature distinguishing it from other belief systems or knowledge-claims
is its cognitive power. In other words, it enables us to explain, predict and control the world in a way that non-scientific or pre-scientific belief systems cannot do. Science as an open belief systems POPPER argues science is an open belief system where very scientists theories are open to scrutiny, criticism and testing by others. Science is governed by the principle of falsification (scientists set out to try and falsify existing theories, deliberately seeking evidence that would disapprove them). In POPPERs view, discarding falsified knowledge-claims is what enables scientific understanding of the world to grow. Scientific knowledge is cumulative it builds on the achievements of previous scientist to develop a greater understanding of the world around us. No theory is ever to be taken as definitely true there is always a possibility that someone will produce evidence to disprove it. Scientific knowledge is that it is not sacred or absolute truth- it can always be questioned, criticised and shown to be false. The CUDOS norms If POPPER is correct, this still leaves the question of why science has only grown so rapidly in the last few centuries. MERTON argues that science can only thrive as a major social institution if it receives support from other institutions and values. He argues that this first occurred in England as a result of the values and attitudes created by the Protestant Reformation, especial Puritanism. The Puritans this-worldly calling and industriousness, and their belief that the study of nature led to an appreciation of Gods works, encouraged them to experiment. Puritanism also stressed social welfare and they were attracted by the fact that science could produce technological inventions to improve the conditions of life. The new institution of science also received support from economic and military institutions as the value of practical applications of science became useful in areas like mining, navigation and weaponry. MERTON also argues, like PROPPER, that science as an institution of organised social activity needs an ethos or set of norms that make scientist act in ways that served the goal of increasing scientific knowledge CUDOS norms (Communism, Universalism, Disinterestedness and Organised Scepticism). Closed belief system While scientific knowledge is provisional, open to challenge and potentially disprovable, religion claims to have special, perfect knowledge of the absolute truth. Its knowledge is literally sacred and religious
organisations claim to hold it on Gods divine authority. This means it cannot be challenged and those who do may be punished. It also means that religious knowledge does not change how could it, if it already has absolute truth? Therefore it is fixed and does not grow. HORTON also puts forward a similar argument. He sees science as an open belief system one where knowledge-claims are open to criticism and can be disapproved by testing. By contrast, religion, magic and many other belief systems are closed. That is, they make knowledge-claims that cannot be successfully overturned. Whenever its fundamental beliefs are threatened, a closed belief system has a number of devices that reinforce the system and prevent it from being disapproved in the eyes of its believers. An example is witchcraft beliefs. The Azande people of the Sudan illustrated HORTONs idea of selfreinforcing. Witchcraft among the Azande Unliike Westerners, the Azande believe that natural events have natural causes. However, the Azande do not believe in coincidence or chance. Thus, when misfortune befalls the Azande, they may explain it in terms of witchcraft. Someone probably a jealous neighbour is practising witchcraft against me. In such cases, the injured party may make an accusation against the suspected witch and the matter may be resolved by consulting the princes magic poison oracle (benge) to a chicken, at the same time asking the benge whether the accused is the source of the witchcraft and telling it to kill the chicken if the answer is yes. If the chicken dies, the sufferer can go and publicly demand the witchcraft to stop. This is enough to end the problem, because they regard witchcraft as a psychic power, coming from a substance located in the witchs intestines, and it is believed possible that the witch is doing harm unintentionally. This allows the accused to proclaim their surprise and horror, to apologise and promise that there will be no further bewitching. EVANS-PITCHARD argues that this belief system performs useful social functions. It not only clears the air and prevents grudges from festering; it also encourages neighbours to behave considerately towards one another in order to reduce the risk of an accusation. The Azande believe witchcraft is hereditary; children have a vested interest in keeping their parents in line, since a successful accusation against the parents also damages the childs reputation. As such, the belief system is an important social control mechanism ensuring conformity and cooperation. EVANS-PITCHARD points out, this belief system is highly resistant to challenges that is, it is a closed system that cannot be overturned by evidence. For example, non-believers might argue that if the benge killed the chicken without the diviner first addressing the potion, this would be a decisive test showing that the oracle did not work. However, for the Azande, such an outcome would just prove that it was not a good benge. Thus, the test doesnt disprove the belief system in the eyes of the believers; instead it actually reinforces it. The believers are trapped within their own idiom of belief because they accept the systems basic assumptions (such as the existence of witchcraft), they cannot challenge it. Self-sustaining beliefs POLANYI argues that beliefs systems have three devices to sustain themselves in the face of apparently contradictory evidence:
Circularity Each idea in the system is explained in terms of another idea within the system and so on, round and round. Subsidiary explanations - For example, if the oracle fails, it may be explained away as due to the incorrect use of the benge. Denial of legitimacy revivals Belief systems reject alternative worldviews by refusing to grant any legitimacy to their basic assumptions. For example, creationism rejects outright the evolutionists knowledge-claim that the earth is billions of years old, and therefore that species have gradually evolved over a long period rather than all having been created. Science as a close system POLYANI argues that all belief system rejects fundamental challenges to their knowledge-claims science is no different. One explanation for scientists refusal even to consider such challenges comes from the history of science. KUHN argues that a mature science such as geology, biology is based on a set of shared assumptions that he calls a paradigm. Scientist work with a paradigm which tells scientists what reality is like, what problems to study and what methods and equipment to use, what will count as evidence and even what answers they should find when they conduct research. When scientists test their hypotheses they try to fit their findings into their existing paradigm, rather than attempt to falsify, dismissing evidence which contradicts the belief that science is an open belief system. Scientific education and training is process of being socialised into faith in the truth of the paradigm, and a successful career depends on working within the paradigm. For these reasons, any scientist who challenges the fundamental assumptions of the paradigm is likely to be ridiculed and hounded out of the profession. Indeed, others in the scientific community will no longer regard him or her as a scientist. The only exceptions to this are during one of the rare periods that KUHN describes as a scientific revolution, when faith in the truth of the paradigm has already been undermined by an accumulation of anomalies results that the paradigm cannot account for. The sociology of scientific knowledge Interpretivist sociologists have developed KUHNs ideas further. They argue that all knowledge including scientific knowledge is socially constructed. That is, rather than being objective truth, it is created by social groups using the resources available to them. In the case of science, scientific facts are the product of shared theories or paradigms that till them what they should expect to see, and of the particular instruments they use. Little green men According to the ethno-methodologists WOOGLAR, scientist are engaged in the same process of making sense or interpreting the world as everyone else. When confronted by evidence from their observations and experiments, they have to decide what it means. They do so by devising and applying theories or explanations, but they then have to persuade others to accept their interpretation.
For example, in the case of the discovery of pulsars by researchers at the Cambridge astronomy laboratory in 1967, the scientist initially annotated the patterns shown on their printouts from the radio telescope as little green men. Recognising that this was an unacceptable interpretation from the viewpoint of the scientific community, they eventually settled on the notion that the patterns represented the signals from a type of star unknown to science. WOOGLAR notes, a scientific fact is simply a social construction or belief that scientists are able to persuade their colleagues to share not necessarily a real thing out there or even an open belief system. We can see the product of shared theories or paradigms move what people expect to see and its difficulty to be challenged. Marxism, feminism and postmodernism- Such perspectives see scientific knowledge as far from pure truth. Instead, they regard it has serving the interests of dominant groups ruling class in the case of Marxists, and men in the case of feminists. Thus, many advances in supposedly pure science have been driven by the need of capitalism for certain types of knowledge. For example, theoretical work and ballistics was driven by the need to develop new weaponry. Similarly, biological ideas have been used to justify both male domination and colonial expansion. In this respect, science can be seen as a form of ideology. Postmodernist also reject the knowledge claim of science to have the truth. In the view of LYOTARD, for example, science is alone of a number of meta-narratives or big stories; that falsely claim to possess the truth. Other meta-narratives include religion, Marxism and psychoanalysis. In LYOTARDs view, science falsely claims to offer the truth about how the world works as a means of progress to a better society, whereas, in reality, he argues, science is just one more discourse or way of thinking that is used to dominate people. Similarly, rather like Marxists, some postmodernists argue that science has become technoscience, simply serving capitalist interest by producing commodities for profit. Ideology Marxism and ideology Marxism sees society as being divided into two opposed classes: a minority ruling class who own the means of production and control the state, and a majority working class who are property less and therefore forced to sell their labour to the capitalists (exploitation). It is therefore in the workers interests to overthrow capitalism by means of a socialist revolution and replace it with a classless communist society in which the means of production are collectively, not privately, owned and used to benefit society as a whole. For this exploitative relationship to continue the ruling class had to persuade the working class to accept their position. Instead of just using brute force to control the workers Marx argued the ruling class used the power of ideas. He believed the ruling class spread their ideology i.e. a set of ideas and beliefs which justified the existing way society was organised. Marx saw one of the main instruments of ruling class ideology as
religion because it taught people that God had created the society the way it was and they should accept it. For a revolution to occur, the working class must first become conscious of their true position as exploited wage slaves they must develop class consciousness. However, the ruling class control not only the means of material production; they also control the means of production of ideas, through institutions such as education, the mass media and religion. These produce ruling class ideology that legitimates or justifies the status quo. For example, myths of meritocracy, equality will never work, racist ideas which divide individuals. Thus dominant ideas are the ideas of the ruling class and they function to prevent change by creating a false consciousness among the workers. However despite these ideological barriers, Marx believes that ultimately the working class will develop a true class consciousness and unite to overthrow capitalism. Hegemony and revolution GRAMSCI refers to the ruling class ideological domination of society as hegemony. He argues that the working-class can develop ideas that challenge ruling-class hegemony. This is because in capitalist society, workers have a dual consciousness a mixture of ruling class ideology and ideas they develop from their own direct experience of exploitation and their struggles against it. This makes it possible for the working class to develop class consciousness and overthrow capitalism. However some critics argue that it is not the existence of a dominant ideology that keeps the workers in line and prevents attempts to overthrow capitalism. ABERCROMBIE et al argue that it is economic factors such as the fear of unemployment that kept workers from rebelling. The working class might accept the current economic system because they see it as the best deal they can get. POPPER is also a strong critic of Marxist thought as he sees it as an ideology in itself. In particular he argues it cannot be tested to see if it is true or false. For example, ideologies in sociology are often associated with distorted, false or mistaken ideas about the world. It is a partial one sided biased view of reality. It is also the case that traditional Marxism assumes people are passive and not able to resist ruling class ideas and beliefs. It ignores that capitalist society can never completely control the working class as they can develop their own version of how society operates as a result of their experiences. Karl Mannheim: ideology and utopia MANNHIEM sees all belief systems as a partial or one-sided worldview. Their one-sidedness results from being the viewpoint of one particular group or class and its interests. This him to distinguish between two board types of belief system or world view:
Ideological thought justifies keeping things as they are. It reflects the position and interests of privileged groups such as the capitalist class. These benefit from maintaining the status quo, so their belief system tends to be conservative and favours hierarchy. Utopian thought justifies social change. It reflects the position and interests of the underprivileged and offers a vision of how society could be organised differently. For example, the working class are disadvantages by the status quo and may favour radical change to a classless society. MANNHEIM sees Marxism as a utopia thought. MANNHEIM sees these worldviews as creations of groups of organic intellectuals who attach themselves to particular classes or social groups. However, these intellectuals represent the interests of particular groups, and not society as a whole, so they only produce partial views of reality. The belief system of each class or group only gives us a partial truth about the world. In his view, this is a source of conflict in society. Different intellectuals, linked to different groups and classes produce opposed ideas that justify the interests and claims of their group as against others. The free-floating intelligentsia In MANNHEIMs view, the solution is therefore to detach the intellectuals from the social groups they represent and create a nonaligned or free-floating intelligentsia standing above conflict. Freed from representing the interests of this or that group, they would be able to synthesise elements of the different partial ideologies and utopias so as to arrive at a total worldview that represented the interests of society as a whole. Feminism and ideology Marxist sees class division as the basis of ideologies justifying inequality. Feminist see gender inequality as the fundamental division and patriarchal ideology as playing a key role in legitimating it. MARKS describe how ideas from science have been used to justify excluding women from education. She quotes 19 th century male doctors, scientist and educationalists expressing the view that educating females would lead to the creation of a new race of puny and unfeminine females and disqualify women from their true vocation, namely the nurturing of the next generation. In addition to patriarchal ideologies in science, those embodied in religious beliefs and practices have also been used to define women as inferior. These are numerous examples from a wide range of religions of the idea that women are ritually impure or unclean; practices have also been used to define women as inferior. There are numerous exampled from a wide range of religions of the idea that women are ritually impure or unclean, particularly because of childbirth or menstruation. This has given rise to purification rituals such as churching after a woman has given birth. In some Christian churches, a new mother may not receive communion until after she has been churched.