Religion and Culture
The cultural elements must not be confused with the religious elements. Culture has to do with the customs of a people, and society with the people who are Is it important to separate religious ideas from other sorts of cultural practices?. ined in relation to society, even if it cannot be reduced into it (Beckford ;. Hervieu-Leger ). In contrast, within some other areas of sociology, this focus. This reelationship between religion and society can be seen in Islamic well as in the comparison of these religions and their relationships with society. of religion, although religious beliefs and practices vary from culture to culture. of religion in general and have influenced other aspects of social life.
They see religion and society as complete, separate entities. While this view may appear correct on the surface, a closer look at religion and society reveals that the two are not separate at all, but intricately interconnected and codependent. In reality, religion is inherent within many aspects of society, and religious beliefs inevitably affect areas such as politics, economics, and cultural values.
This reelationship between religion and society can be seen in Islamic religion and Muslim social culture, Christianity and economics, and Buddhism and politics.
In each of these religions we can find insight for understanding the society in which it exists, as well as in the comparison of these religions and their relationships with society.
There are no known societies that do not have some form of religion, although religious beliefs and practices vary from culture to culture.
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All religions involve a set off symbols, invoking feelings of reverence, linked to rituals practiced by a community of believers. The three most influential monotheistic religions in world history are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Sociological approaches to religion have been most influenced by Marx, Weber, an nd Durkheim. Churches, sects, cults, and denominations are four main types of religious organizations. Religious movements have played a central part in the development of religion in general and have influenced other aspects of social life.
Although the influence of religion has declined, religion is certainly not on the verge of disappearing. From a historical perspective, the influence of religion has been weakened by the process of secularization. Religious beliefs give meaning to life, and experiences associated with them provide personal gratification as well as release from the frustrations and anxieties of daily life. Various sociology books and internet pages researching.
A religion is a ritualized system of beliefs and practices related to things defined as sacred by an organized community of believers. Religion may take a variety of forms. Religious beliefs give meaning to life, and the experiences associated with them provide personal gratification as well as a release from the frustrations and an nxieties of daily life.
Sociologists define religion as a cultural system of commonly shared beliefs and rituals that provides a sense of ultimate meaning and purpose by creating an idea of reality that is sacred, all-encompassing, and supernatural Berger, ; Durkheim,orig. The earliest evidence of religious behavior dates back over Religion, especially in its organized forms, has played a number of roles in history.
Christianity Christianity is a form of monotheism. It originally emerged in Palestine some 2, years ago. Christianity was spread through conquest and missionary work. Today it has become the largest religion in the world, including about 1 billion Catholics and nearly half a billion Protestants. In Asia, Christians are a small minority, largely because countries like Japan and China successfully resisted most colonization and the Christianization that went with it.
Islam Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world today.
Muslims are estimated to number 1. Islam began and remains the official faith of Arab and other peoples of f the Middle East.
Muslims believe in absolute, unquestioning, positive devotion to Allah God. The precepts of Islam were revealed to Muhammad and are contained in a sacred book dictated to his followers called the Koran. Islam is an all-encompassing religion. The sacred shares include prescriptions for worship, daily life, ethics, and even government.
Life is governed by the Five Pillars of Islam. In most Muslim countries, religious leaders live in a sometimes uneasy alliance with secular governments. Hinduism Hinduism dates to about 2, years before Christ. It is the source of Buddhism and Sikhism. Today there are some million Hindus. Hinduism is an ethical religion that calls for an ideal way of life.
It may even be claimed that human endeavor in the realm of religion and belief has been more strenuous and longer-lasting than his efforts in the area of knowledge and art. In many historical events, religion can be seen to have dominated all relationships. All members of society belong to the church. Churches, sects, denominations and cults are religious organizations.
The differences among them lie in their relationship to the social environment. The larger point, for both individuals and nations, is the tangible power of a sporting pastime to generate common bonds from the local to the international Rees— That bond is an expression of culture. Symbols of group identity The second element of culture are symbols of identity. The kinds of sign I am referring to are tangible reminders in modern societies of who we are as a people.
They include styles of architecture such as bridges or religious buildingsland or waterscapes that influence the activity of life such as in harbour citiesmonuments, flags and other identity banners, styles of clothing and habits of dress, distinctive food and drink — and so on.
These signs are more than a tourist attraction, they are symbols that inform members about who they are as a group and that help the group live together cohesively. Consider, for example, the individual and international significance of national flags as cultural symbols.
The Star-Spangled Banner as the anthem of the United States of America describes the power of a national flag to inspire individual and national devotion. The answer for Key was yes, the flag symbolising defiance and the promise of victory. Equally, persecuted communities within a country might see a national or regional flag as a symbol of oppression rather than freedom, symbolising a dominant way of life that excludes them.
- „What is the role of religion in society? How religion and economics might be intertwined?“
- Religion, Culture, and Communication
In all regions of the world nationalist groups fight for autonomy or independence from a country or countries that surround them, and do so under alternative flags that represent their own cultural identity. The flag of the Canadian province of Quebec, for example, employs religious and cultural symbols reflecting its origins as a French colony in the new world. Quebec nationalists campaigning for independence from Canada have employed the flag in the promotion of French language, cultural preservation and Quebecois identity.
National separatist groups worldwide are similarly inspired by symbols of culture they are trying to preserve. Stories of our place in the world The third element of culture is the power of story. Like the cultural use of symbols, societies need to tell stories.
These may be about individuals and groups, of events in the distant and recent past, of tales of victory and defeat involving enemies and friends — and so on. Such stories are told to reaffirm, or even recreate, ideas of where that society belongs in relation to the wider world. As such, stories are performances designed to influence what we understand to be real Walter72— Sometimes cultural difference can be most starkly understood by the different stories societies tell about themselves.
In such places, national holidays can be mourned as commemorating invasion and dispossession. New Zealand offers somewhat of a contrast, with the story of the nation including the drawing up of the Treaty of Waitangi signed in between the British colonisers and the indigenous Maori tribes. Such ownership, as an attempt to uphold the sovereignty of the Maori nation swas central to the preservation of their cultural story.
Sadly, this is not the history recounted by Australian indigenous nations or most Native American tribes in the United States and Canada. Taken together, these depictions of preservation and loss illustrate the importance of language, ritual, place and tradition in the cultural story at the individual and international level. Like living organs, societies experience growth and decline, health and decay, fitness and injury.
Extending the analogy, we could say that culture is a way to measure the psychological and emotional health of society. These descriptors reflect what individuals and international societies believe is a healthy culture. As such, culture involves agreement on the kind of things that are good for society and can make it flourish. One of the leading frontiers of culture clash worldwide involves the campaign for gender equality in areas such as education, employment, reproductive and marital rights.
The story of Malala Yousafzai from northwest Pakistan reminds us of the power of one individual to inspire an international response on the vital issue of education for girls.
When Malala was 12, and inspired by her teacher father, she began to speak out for the right to education, something that was becoming increasingly restricted due to the influence of the Taliban in Pakistan. Inalthough critically wounded, Malala survived an assassination attempt at the hands of the Taliban and, on her recovery, became a brave advocate for the many millions who were being denied education due to certain cultural perceptions about girls and their place in society.
In she was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicated her prize money to the building of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. While it has been important to consider each concept separately, highlighting the particular ways that religion and culture influence international relations, there are clear interlinkages between them.
Theorists have long drawn such links and these are useful for our consideration here. Consider the similarities between the elements of religion and culture described in this chapter such as the role of symbols and stories in both accounts, and the pursuit of life according to what either faith or culture determine to be the higher standards of living. Such a view makes sense because no one religion encompasses an entire society in the world today, and no society lives entirely according to one set of sacred rules and practices.
On the other hand, in some contexts religious authority and identity can be more significant than any other cultural element. For example, when American soldiers moved into the Iraqi city of Najaf in to negotiate security arrangements, it was not the town mayor or the police chief that had most influence.
Rather, it was the reclusive religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose authority influenced not only the city but much of the fracturing nation itself. Taking another example, when Communist authorities confronted striking dock workers in Poland in the s, it was not only unions that opposed them but also the Catholic Church, whose priests performed sacred rituals and stood in solidarity with strikers in open defiance of the government.
„What is the role of religion in society? How religion and economics might be intertwined?“
In both these examples, the elements of religion are equally — if not more — prominent than the elements of culture. Perhaps the most useful approach, therefore, is to see the elements of religion and the elements of culture in constant interaction with one another.
We have explored just four elements for each category. What might some other elements be and what are the impacts of these elements on individual and international life? There are some excellent resources to assist us in exploring such questions. Can we all live together? One of the most pressing questions related to our study is whether religious and cultural actors and agendas have more of a positive or negative effect on global affairs.
As we have seen above, these elements relate to some of the deepest levels of human experience, both individually and internationally. The influential scholar Martin E. Marty would add that such an approach helps us to deepen our understanding of world politics as it really is.
The number of alternative examples in IR is potentially unlimited — so as you read on, keep in mind other instances where the elements of religion and culture contribute to violence and peacemaking.
In many ways this was an accurate description because the conflict between the Soviet Union and the West had shaped the dynamics of global affairs for half a century. But, what would this new order look like? One answer was offered by Samuel P. Huntingtonwho suggested that world politics would no longer be shaped by a clash of ideologies e. With this hypothesis, Huntington still assumed that global politics would be shaped by conflict as much as the Cold War before it had been.
The significant shift in thinking was the prominence that religious and cultural identity would play in shaping the conflict. Significantly, the descriptors Huntington gives to the major civilisations have a cultural or religious link: This creates fault lines between individuals and peoples who will inevitably fall into serious conflict over these deep and abiding differences. Although it is worth noting that the administration of George W.
Religious Influence in Society
Religion and culture are central to this framing. Religion and culture create a dialogue of civilisations At the end of the Cold War, rather than assuming the continuation of a conflict-driven world as Huntington did, some saw the new world order as an opportunity to redesign the way international affairs was conducted.
What would such a politics look like? Some policymakers imagined a world where multiple actors — not just powerful states — could contribute to a collective process of stability and accountability.
Religio-cultural voices were increasingly considered an important part of this conversation. Accordingly, an alternative approach to that of Huntington came from a United Nations consultative group known as the World Public Forum, which began an initiative in called the Dialogue of Civilizations. Thus, in stark contrast to the clash of civilisations assumption that religion and culture are causes of conflict, the Dialogue of Civilizations deploys the same broad elements as resources for building bridges between individuals and peoples in the development of sustainable peace and cooperation.
What is the value of such a change? The Dialogue of Civilizations potentially offers a more equalising approach, whereby religion and culture become an extension of politics based on shared interests. The importance of precise thinking Which framework makes more sense to you? Does the rise of religion and culture in international affairs encourage clash or a dialogue? Do religious and cultural elements of politics enable us to live together in cooperation or do they disconnect us in ways that lead to conflict?
Applying the logic that we introduced at the start of this section, one answer is that elements of religion and culture contribute to both clash and dialogue, to both conflict and cooperation.
The benefit of this approach is twofold. First, it encourages us to look closely at specific elements of religion and culture — as we have done in this chapter — instead of forcing such complex phenomena into a singular assumption about conflict or cooperation. This kind of ambivalent outlook allows us to consider how the precise elements of religion and culture are used in violent and peaceful ways. For every cultural symbol of hate, we see as many cultural symbols of healing and peace.
For every religious movement of violence, we see as many religious movements for reconciliation. Beyond the issue of peace versus violence, it has also helped us understand the need for particular consideration about the extent of religious and cultural influence on politics throughout the world.
For example, on religion, Jonathan Fox7 writes: Cultural factors are similarly dynamic, both in influence and in the forms they take. Conclusion In this chapter we set out to draw a diagram of religion and culture in world affairs. The aim was to show that religious and cultural factors matter if we want to deepen our understanding of international relations. The method has been to define elements of each concept and consider the impact of these elements on aspects of our individual, national and international experience.
Hopefully, you are convinced that understanding religious and cultural issues is necessary if you want to join some of the most important discussions about world politics today.