Social Change Essay

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Assess the extent to which religion produces social change (33 marks) Sociologists have mixed views on whether religion promotes social change or inhibits it. Weber argues that religion is a cause for social change and focuses on Calvinists to demonstrate how religion can lead to social change. Religion can also lead to social protest as many religious movements such as the Civil Rights Movement show. However Marxists, Functionalists and Feminists believe that religion is a conservative force and maintains the status quo. On the other hand, most sociologists do not believe there is a simple relationship between religion and social change; they argue that there are a number of situational factors that determine whether or not a religion promotes social change. Weber identified one theodicy that he believed may have facilitated dramatic social change. Calvinists were a protestant group that formed in the 17th century, who believed in pre-destination. Calvinists believed their fate was already chosen for them in heaven however they believed that there hard work and ascetic lifestyle would give them a life in heaven. Their hard work became known as the protestant ethic. Weber believed that the protestant ethic of Calvinists drove the spirit of capitalism, as their hard work and ascetic lifestyle meant that any profits from their business were reinvested, producing further profits, which was ideal for the development of capitalism. Marxists such as Kautsky, criticise Weber for underestimating economic factors in bringing capitalism to the surface. Kautsky argues that capitalism came before Calvinism, similarly Tawney argues that it wasn’t until capitalism was established that the bourgeoisie started to develop Calvinist beliefs to justify their pursuit of economic gain. Weber has also been criticised because capitalism did not develop in all countries where there were

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