the same root.
oWealth is God-given and perhaps even that it makes the wealthy godlike.
The Hindu scriptures say that the highest caste sprang from the lips of the supreme
creator, the next highest caste from his shoulders, the next highest from his thighs,
and the lowest, “polluted” caste from his feet.
Quran suggests that social inequality is due to the will of Allah.
In Canada today, most people celebrate the alleged absence of social hierarchy.
A civil religion is a set of quasi-religious beliefs and practices that bind a population
together and justify its way of life.
When we think of Canada as a land opportunity, a meritocracy in which everyone
can achieve success, we are giving voice to Canada’s civil religion.
Our civil religion may help us divert attention from the many inequalities that
persist in Canadian society.
Religion can sometimes promote conflict and change.
Religion can maintain social order under some circumstances, as Durkheim said.
When it does so, however, it often reinforces social inequality, as Marx argued.
Moreover, under other circumstances religion can promote social conflict.
Weber, Social Change, and Symbolic Interaction
If Durkheim highlighted the way religion contributes to social order, Max Weber
stressed the way religion can contribute to social change.
Weber captured the core of this argument in a memorable image: 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
Like Marx, Weber was interested in explaining the rise of modern capitalism. Again
like Marx, he was prepared to recognize the “fundamental importance of the
economic factor” in his explanation.
Weber’s focus on the worldly significance of the meaning people attach to religious
ideas makes him a forerunner of the symbolic interactionist tradition.