121 sociology assignment Essay

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Religion is an important aspect of life; it influences a high proportion of many things.

The odd part is that many people are not actually clear on what is religion. There are several key aspects that make something a religion although the exact details can vary in reality there is no firm agreement on just what is religion. This essay will explain how religion can be used as a tool of oppression and liberation in society using South Africa as a unit of analysis. Firstly, a definition will be given on different meanings of religion by sociologists, secondly an analysis will be given on how religion can be used as a tool; of oppression, thirdly how religion can be used as a tool of liberating society using south Africa as a unit of analysis and lastly conclusion of the topic regarding the topic.


According to Max Weber (cited by Ferrate: 2016:138), religion encompasses those human responses that give meaning to the ultimate and inescapable problems of existence-birth, death, illness, ageing, injustice, tragedy, and suffering’(Abercrombie and turner ,1978). Durkheim (cited by Ferrante, 2016:139) defined religion as a system of shared rituals and beliefs about the sacred that bind together a community. Karl Marx defined religion as a source of false consciousness in that religion teachings encourage the oppressed to accept to accept the economic, political (cited by Ferrante: 2016:147). And sSocial arrangements that constrain their chances in this life because they are promised compensation for their suffering in the next world. Therefore, from this discussion, it can be said that religion is the set of beliefs, feelings, dogmas and practice that define the relations between human being and sacred or divinity.


Louis Althusser (First published Fri Oct 16, 2009; substantive revision Tue Feb 13, brought forth the idea religion serves society by being the ideological state apparatuses this basically means that the higher the class rule over the working class by controlling people’s ideas, values and beliefs. This means that the higher class just brought forth as a way to control the massed that all their hard work will be rewarded in the next life or will be punished if they try to rebel the higher class’ control over them.

For example, in sSouth Africa people /pastors who are rich are using their power and religion to oppress the less fortunate by convincing them to donate huge sum of money that the pastor will use in return to pray for them to be rich and get out of poverty whereas they are lying to the congregation because they know people in south Africa people are hungry for money and they take advantage of that so that they can enrich themselves and their families through corrupt scheming and to oppress the people more who are mostly black people living in rural areas because those people believe that pastors are sent by god to answer their call of getting out of poverty as they have been praying a lot to get a better life (religion a tool of oppression,2016,may 26,) (retrieved from ://assignmentpress.com/religion tool of oppression essay).

Despite the fact that Karl Marx (ferrate: 2016:146-147) acknowledge the comforting role of religion, he focused on its repressive, constraining and exploitative .in particular ,he conceptualised religion as an ideology that justifies existing inequalities or downplay their importance, .in particular, religion is a source of false consciousness in that religion teaching encourage the oppressed to accept the economic , political and social arrangement that constrain their chances in this life because they are promised compensation for their chances in this life because they are promised compensation for their suffering in the next world .this promise serves to rationalise the political and economic interests of the advanced social class.

This kind of ideology led Marx to conclude that religious teaching inhibits protest and revolutionary change. He went as far to claim that religion would be unnecessary in a truly classless or property-less society. Additionally, according to Karl Marx religion is a fantasy that gives reasons and reasons to keep society working similarly all thing considered much as free enterprise takes our profitable work and distance black and white people who are less fortunate and the more marginalised from its worth, religion takes people most elevated standards yearning and estranges black and white south Africans from them, anticipating them into and outsider and mysterious being known as a divine being (Austin cline ,updated April 27, 2019, religion as opium of the people).

Marx’s final view on religion as a tool of oppression is inequality can be established through establishing a classless society (Austin cline, updated April 27, 2019, religion as opium of the people).when this this happens, unequal social relations will no longer need to be legitimated ,people’s alienation will fade away ,and with them will go any need for religion. Therefore, in understanding religion as a tool of oppression in the South African context, it could be said that religion is just needy upon financial aspect like the churches we see in South Africa who are only after money and want to oppress our people more and more because people are hungry to eradicate themselves and their families from poverty, nothing else – to such an extent that genuine religious precepts are practically insignificants.


As indicated by Emile Durkheim in planning his thoughts regarding religion, Durkheim stayed open to the numerous assortments of religious experience all through the world (Ferrante: 2016:139). He recognized three basic highlights that he accepts were normal to all religions, at various times: convictions about sacrosanct and the profane, Rituals and a network of admirers. Durkheim (Ferrante: 2016:140) keeps up that holiness springs not from the thing, custom or occasion itself, yet rather from its emblematic power and from the feelings that individuals experience when they consider holy things or when they are in its essence. As indicated by Durkheim (Ferrante: 2016:141) the consecrated includes more than the powers of good. “There are Gods of burglary and precarious of desire and war; of ailment and passing .All things considered, Durkheim considers super-normal abhorrence marvels to fall inside the class of the hallowed, in light of the fact that they are invested with extraordinary powers and fill in as the objects of customs, (for example, admission to free one of transgression, submersion to refine the spirit, atonement for sins and expulsion to free one of shades of malice intended to survive or oppose the negative impacts of such wonders. . As per Durkheim (ferrante:2016:142), the nature the significant component is that the customs are shared by a network of admirers and brings out specific thoughts and notions that help people feel themselves to be a piece of an option that is bigger than themselves. Additionally, Durkheim utilizes the word church to assign a gathering whose individuals hold similar convictions with respect to the sacrosanct and profane model we can take the Zion Christian church in South Africa that individuals share similar convictions in regards to the consecrated and profane. They act a similar route within the sight of the hallowed, and they in soul at conceded to times to reaffirm their duty to those convictions and practices. Clearly, religious convictions and practices can’t be shared by a gathering of individuals. On religion and freedom in South African setting freedom hypothesis gave otherworldly assets to protection from politically-sanctioned racial segregation. Different people group additionally utilized religion to advocate against politically-sanctioned racial segregation. Muslim gatherings utilized the Qur’an and prophetic practices as a source to advocate for balance (Ferrante: 2016:145).

Additionally, the functionalist point of view keeps up that religion serves imperative social capacities for people and for the gathering. For instance, how individuals may adapt to the massive obliteration and annihilation coming about because of many years of persecution. Similarly, as religion shaped a significant job of politically-sanctioned racial segregation’s supremacist belief system, so too religion assumed a job in freeing South Africans from politically-sanctioned racial segregation. In the public arena as the object of love Durkheim kept up that society rises above the person’s life, since it free individuals from the subjugation of nature (as in nature versus nurture). On the general public as the object of love Durkheim saw that at whatever point any gathering of individuals has a solid conviction, that conviction quite often assumes a religious personality.

According to Karl Lam (Karl Lam .2018;religion;liberation and oppression), almost certainly, one reason that religions emerged was to manage trouble some issues – that is entire society attempted to consider unmistakably, for example, sex, the reasonable dissemination of assets, or hostile to social conduct. A significant number the new thoughts that religious created were useful for their time, yet they were restricted. One constraint was that, frequently, individuals were not urged to have an independent perspective. Rather they were urged to pursue the thinking about a pioneer (and the pioneers did frequently have smart thoughts) or to pursue a lot of guidelines. This was frequently superior to anything what had been happening previously – generally the religion could never have been broadly embraced in any case. In any case it was characteristically constrained: a lot of standards is never comparable to an adaptable and imaginative knowledge, and tailing another person’s psyche uncritically implies not utilizing one’s very own brain. “I am not religious, however I comprehend that most religions began as freedom developments and I regard that part of them, similarly as I regard all endeavours at human freedom. Their foundations in liberation can be unmistakable from the contortions later acquainted with prop up the built up social request”. (Karl Lam.2018; Religion, Liberation and Oppression)

Simon Maimela, a pioneer researcher of Black religions philosophy in South Africa, characterises the beginning stage of freedom hypothesis in basic reflection on the historical backdrop of distance and under estimation of black individuals against the liberatory parts of Christian idea (Chimhanda, 2010). In South Africa dark freedom philosophy created with regards to the persecution of the dark population and as a philosophical articulation of the battle for freedom from the politically sanctioned racial segregation system (ferrante:2016:147-148). Churches that upheld politically sanctioned racial segregation belief system additionally delivered a philosophy of discrimination. In reaction, South African Black theory was a way to ‘[conscientise]’ the Christian church which was complicit with white South African Christians. Black scholars accentuated freedom and the battle against racial discrimination. They reformed and started another religious culture orientated to politically – sanctioned racial segregation (Mwambazambi, 2010; Mosala 1990:1).South African black religious philosophy censured politically – sanctioned racial segregation church tenet on three viewpoints; In particular, regarding the individual of God, the message of the Gospel and the humankind of Africans

South African dark priests created a hypothesis that approves “African personhood and human dignity”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu confirms that “we (as Africans) matter, we are perfectly healthy, and dark is beautiful”(.kalemba mwambazambi , 1974:73; Mwambazambi, 2010). Some researchers take the view that for dark Christians, Jesus Christ is the “Dark Messiah” who relates to the persecuted forsaken, ignored, dismissed or disgraced by vile social orders. (Boesak, 1977:42).

Therefore, in understanding religion as a tool for liberation in the South African context, it could be said that religion united people of different race through many things in order to bring peace and stability in the country after a very abusive apartheid government which was racist and brutal towards black people and it was eradicated through religion as tool of liberation and through the truth and reconciliation commission.


Emile Durkheim arrived at the resolution that religion is the hidden love of society. The divinities which men love together are just projections of the power of society. “Religion is prominently social: it happens in a social setting, and, all the more significantly, when men celebrate consecrated things, they accidentally commend the intensity of their general public. This power so rises above their own reality that they need to give it a sacrosanct centrality so as to picture it” (Coser 1913-2003:138) Behind all of the religious customs, ceremonies, and images, the sentiments of cunningness, adoration and motivation, Durkheim could see the intensity of society. Religion is a statement of progressively essential misery and indication of increasingly basic and abusive monetary substances. Ideally, people will make a general public wherein the monetary conditions causing so much torment and enduring would be destroyed and, in this way, the requirement for mitigating medications like religion will stop. Obviously, for Marx, such a new development isn’t to be “sought after” in light of the fact that mankind’s history was driving definitely towards it.


1. First published Fri Oct 16, 2009; substantive revision Tue Feb 13 of access date of access: 29 august 2019.

2. By Austin cline, updated April 27, 2019, religion as opium of the people, date of access: 29 august 2019.

3. Karl Lam.2018; Religion, Liberation and Oppression, ,date of access 29 august 2019.

4. Joan Ferrante, 2016, Sociology South African Perspective, 1st edition,Johannesburg,Marinda Louw.

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