Textbook Notes (362,755)
Canada (158,052)
Sociology (1,464)
SOC100H5 (494)
Jayne Baker (137)
Chapter 10

Chapter 10

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

Religion and Education Religion  The motivation of religion is psychological; however, the content and intensity of our religious beliefs, and the form and frequency of our religious practices, are influenced by the structure of society and our place in it.  Religion is still highly prevalent within Canada, but the scope of religious authority has declined and religion governs fewer aspects of life than it used to o View religion as only helping Canadians deal with a restricted range of spiritual issues o Medicine, psychiatry, criminal justice, education, and so forth has grown in importance Classical Approaches in the Sociology of Religion Durkheim’s Fundamentalist Approach  Collective Conscience: comprises the common sentiments and values that people share as a result of living together  Profane: refers to the secular, everyday world  Sacred: refers to the religious, transcendent world  Totems: objects that symbolize the sacred  Rituals: set practices designed to connect people to the sacred  The function of rituals and religion is to reinforce social solidarity o The ritual heightens our experience of belonging to certain groups, increases our respect for certain institutions, and strengthens our belief in certain ideas o i.e. religion can maintain social order under some circumstances  Suicide rates dip for collective celebrations because when social solidarity increases, suicide rate lowers  Offers useful insights into the role of religion in society, but two main criticisms: 1. Overemphasizes religion’s role in maintaining social cohesion (often incites social conflict) 2. Ignores the fact that when religion increases social cohesions, it often reinforces social inequality Religion, Feminist Theory, and Conflict Theory  Religion and Social Inequality o The rise of religion was often due to adversity in current world and impulse to find a better world; prophets of religion promoted a message of equality and freedom o Routinization of Charisma: Weber’s term for the transformation of the unique gift of divine enlightenment into a permanent feature of everyday life. It involves turning religious inspiration into a stable social institution with defined roles (interpreters of the divine message, teachers, dues-paying laypeople, etc.)  Makes religion less responsive to the needs of ordinary people, and it often supports social inequality and injustices  Religion and the Subordination of Women o Marx stressed how religion often tranquilized the underprivileged into accepting their lot in life (called religion “the opium of the people”) o Catholic priests, Music mullahs, and Jewish rabbis must be men o Scriptures outright state the subordination of women  Religion and Class Inequality o Christianity promoted the view that the Almighty ordains class inequality, promising rewards to the lowly in the afterlife o Hindu scriptures warn that if people attempt to achieve upward mobility they will be reincarnated as animals o Koran says that social inequality is due to the will of Allah  Religion and Social Conflict o Church: a bureaucratic religious organization that has accommodated itself to mainstream society and culture o Church authorities often support gender and class inequality; however, religiously inspired protest against inequality often erupts from below  E.g. Black churches spearheading the American civil rights movement (1950’s and 1960’s)  Organizationally, black churches supplied the ministers who formed the civil rights movement’s leadership and the congregations whose members marched, boycotted, and engaged in other forms of protest  Christian doctrine inspired the protestors – blacks, like the Jews in Egypt, were slaves who would be freed  Some white segregations reacted strongly (violence) against peaceful protestors  Religion helped promote the conflict needed to make the South a more egalitarian and racially integrated place  E.g. Radical Christianity of the Social Gospel Movement (Great Depression)  Emphasized that Christians should be as concerned with improving the here and now as with life in the hereafter  Concern with social justice  Tommy Douglas, a Baptist minister, the leader of the CCF (i.e. NDP), socialized medicine in Canada  When religion maintains social order it often reinforces social inequality Weber and the Problem of Social Change: A Symbolic Interactionist Interpretation  stressed the way religion can contribute to social change  if history is like a train, pushed along its tracks by economic and political interests, then religious ideas are like railroad switches, determining exactly which tracks the train will follow  Protestant Ethic – meanings people attach to religious ideas contributed to the rise of capitalism o People could reduce their religious doubts and ensure a state of grace by working diligently and living simply o Where it took root, and where economic conditions were favourable, early capitalist enterprise grew most robustly The Rise, Decline, and Partial Revival of Religion Secularization  When the forces of nature and human affairs seemed entirely unpredictable, magic was popular because it offered easy answers to mysterious, painful, and capricious events  As material conditions improved, organized religion took hold; the Christian church vigorously stamped out opposing belief systems and practices (e.g. persecution of witches) o Became the center of life in both its spiritual and its worldly dimensions o Church authority was supreme in marriage, education, morality, economic affairs, politics, etc.  Secularization Thesis: theory that religious institutions, actions, and consciousness are on the decline worldwide o Scientific and other forms of rationalization were replacing religious authority o Religion is unlikely to disappear, but they are on the decline Religious Revival and Religious Fundamentalism  Secularization was evident in the 1980s, but many sociologists modified their judgments in the 1990s 1. Accumulated survey evidence showed that religion was not in an advanced state of decay – in many places, it was in robust health 2. Intensification of religious belief and practice has taken place among some people in recent decades  E.g. since 1960s, fundamentalist religious organizations have increased their membership  Fundamentalists: people who interpret their scriptures literally, seek to establish a direct, personal relationship with the higher being(s) they worship, and are relatively intolerant of non-fundamentalists o often support conservative social and political issues o may take extreme forms and involve violence as a means of establishing fundamentalist ideas and institutions  religious movements became dominant forces in many other countries  Hindu nationalists formed the Indian government from 1998-2004  Jewish fundamentalists were always important players in Israeli political life, often holding the balance of power in government  Revival of Muslim fundamentalism began in Iran in 1970s – took power in some countries, governments introduced elements of Islamic religious law Case Study: The Social and Political Context of Muslim Fundamentalism  Three members of the Japanese Red Army (has links to the General Command of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine  want to wrest Israel from Jewish Rule) started firing at Lod (now Ben Gurion) International airport o Killed 26 people, half of which were non-Jews, 11 were Catholics  Both Japanese Red Army and the General Command of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were strictly non-religious organizations (just extremist politics), but when Kozo Okamoto wound up living in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley, the main base of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah fundamentalist organization, he converted to Islam o This shows that religious fundamentalism often provides a convenient vehicle for framing political extremism, enhancing its appeal, legitimizing it, and providing a foundation for the solidarity of political groups  Many people regard Islamic fundamentalism as an independent variable and extremist politics as a dependent variable. But Islamic fundamentalism has political sources. o E.g. Al-Qaeda is strongly antagonistic to American foreign policy in the Middle East  Despises US support for repressive and non-democratic Arab governments which fail to distribute the benefits of oil wealth to the largely impoverished Arab people  Strongly opposed to the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (too pro-Israeli and insufficiently supportive of Palestinian interests)  Arabs in the Middle East hold largely favourable attitudes toward American culture, democracy, and the American people, but extremely negative attitudes toward those elements of American Middle East policy that Al-Qaeda opposes  Extremist organizations in the Middle East gain in strength to the degree that these political issues are not addressed in a meaningful way  To win the war on terrorism, one must set two goals: (1) to destroy the terrorists and (2) to begin a political effort that focuses on the conditions that brought about their emergence  fundamentalism is powerfully influenced by the social and political context in which it emerges The Revised Secularization Thesis  Theory that worldly institutions break off from the institution of religion over time. As a result, religion governs an ever smaller part of most people’s lives and has become largely a matter of personal choice o Acknowledge that religion has become increasingly influential in the lives of some individuals, but the scope of religious authority has declined in most people’s lives o Education is now run mostly by non-religious authorities that focus on worldly affairs than spiritual matters  religion applicable only to the spiritual part of most people’s lives o Because scope of religious authority restricted, people look to religion for moral guidance in everyday life less often than they used to o Turned religion into a personal and private matter rather than one imposed by a powerful, authoritative institution  people feel free to combine beliefs and practices from various sources and traditions to suit their own tastes The Market Model  Religious organizations are suppliers of services (e.g. counselling, pastoral care, youth activities, gender groups, performance groups, lectures, discussions). These services are demanded by people who desire religious activities. Religious denominations are the different brands offering different flavours of religious experience.  Religion promises otherworldly or supernatural rewards in exchange for particular types of behaviour (religion is particularly appealing to poor because rich have material possessions so they have less desire and need for super promises)  However, religion is also appealing to the rich (many give up wealth to live a simple spiritual life) because it offers worldly benefits (e.g. public recognition)  Emphasizes advantages of diversification o People assume that an official or state religion is the best guarantee of religiosity, but religious diversity can also be a source of strength because it allows individuals to shop around for a religious organization that corresponds to their particular tastes o May explain why US, despite banning state support for religion and is a highly industrialized country, has an exceptionally high rate of religious participation o May explain why Quebec (state and religion remained entwined until recently) have experienced a sharp drop off in participation in religious organization Religion in Canada  Religious groups are divided into three types: o Church: a bureaucratic religious organization that has accommodated itself to mainstream society and culture - may endure for thousands of years - bureaucratic nature evident in formal training of leaders, strict hierarchy of roles, and clearly drawn rules and regulation - integration into mainstream society evident in its teachings (abstract and don’t generally challenge worldly authority) and recruitment of members from all classes  Ecclesia: state-supported churches  impose advantages on members and disadvantages on non-members  tolerance of other religions is low in societies with ecclesia  Denominations: the various streams of belief and practice that some churches allow to coexist under their overarching authority (seen i
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