Discuss the Contribution Feminism Has Made to Our Understanding of the Sociology of Religion. Illustrate Your Arguments with Sociological Examples.

2539 Words11 Pages
Paula Gourley Discuss the contribution feminism has made to our understanding of the sociology of religion. Illustrate your arguments with sociological examples. The sociology of religion examines the significance of the role of religion within society. It is not concerned with philosophical or theological issues such as the existence of God. Rather the sociology of religion examines how beliefs and practices affect behaviour, how religion is understood and how it influences social life. It also looks at the characteristics common to all religions and the factors which influence the way it is organised. Feminism is one area within sociology which takes a critical view of religion. Feminists regard religion as a source of social opium to…show more content…
'For Marx too religion appealed to the person: who has either not yet found himself or has already lost himself again...... It is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world....It is the opium of the people' (Selfe and Starbuck,1998:22). Marx believed that people become alienated from each other due to the economic system, in which capitalism divides people through class inequalities. Religion emerges as a product of this alienation in which people try to gain acceptance of their lot in life. Among poor immigrant groups religion remains strong. Religion is therefore a drug and a product of society which makes things bearable. The caste system in India which relies on Hindu religious beliefs helps to maintain and justify caste discrimination (Selfe and Starbuck, 1998). Even though Marx acknowledged the comforting role of religion, he focused on its repressive, restraining qualities which help to maintain the 'status quo'. He suggested that often religion provides justification for inequalities of wealth and power and argues that we must free ourselves and not fear the gods we have created. He argued that religion prevents people from challenging the source of their oppression and provides them with a 'false consciousness'. People believe they will be compensated for their suffering in the next world. Like Functionalists, Marxists agree social institutions control and socialise individuals but

More about Discuss the Contribution Feminism Has Made to Our Understanding of the Sociology of Religion. Illustrate Your Arguments with Sociological Examples.

Open Document