The Relationship Between Religion And Social Change

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The study of religion has produced a range of interdisciplinary perspectives because of the sheer diversity of religious beliefs and practices, which have evolved with human history. Sociologists have theorised, to what extent religious practices and beliefs have been socially constructed, and, how these religious constructions shape other institutions and discourses throughout society and their impact on modernity. This essay focuses on the relationship between religion and social change as proposed in the theories of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. It will be argued that religion will continue to evolve with society while providing coherent meaning for the progressions and successes in people’s everyday lives, and thus providing a metaphorical platform for social change, as theorised by Max Weber. Karl Marx however, interprets religion as an opiate for human suffering. Marx drew influence from Hegel and Feuerbach’s philosophy and theories respectively to establish his own exegesis of religion. Durkheim however, sought to identify religion through social class and status, through which society was divided by faith, the profane or sacred. Max Weber, was a 20th century historian and well regarded social scientist. Weber argued that a knowledge of history is the principle focus for social scientists, and that Verstehen, or meaning, is paramount to interpreting human action (Bowie, 2000 p.77). It was this intrinsic motivation that prompted him to ask the
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