The World Essay

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Assess the view that fundamentalist religious groups are promoting positive social change. Most religions have traditional conservative beliefs about moral issues and many of them oppose changes that would allow individuals more freedom in personal and sexual matters. Religion functions to conserve or preserve things as they are and maintain the status quo. The view on religion held by functionalists, Marxist and feminist even though they see their roles in religion differently they all agree that it provides social stability. Functionalists pay particular attention to the way in which religion serves the needs of both individuals and society overall. In terms of functionality, religion does this in a variety of ways such as reinforcing cultural norms and values and generating what Durkheim referred to as a collective conscience. This serves to generate social integration through the shared culture of norms and values that bring people together. Durkheim noted how societies use sacred objects or totems that become highly symbolic and mostly special. Because of their importance to society they become icons, which are worshipped so people are effectively worshipping society. It is therefore clear how religion and actions like collective worship can be seen as important contributors to social union and social solidarity. Parsons shared the view that religion reinforces consensus values, even for those who were not particularly religious, but who share the current norms and values of society that are often fixed in religious traditions. However, Durkheim recognized that belief systems, other than religion, could also serve to integrate society. While Marxists agree that religion can act as an important agency of socialisation and can be seen to help bind society together through the promotion of false consciousness, they disagree with the premise of

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