‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature
‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people’. Marxists view religion as a tool, used by the bourgeois to exploit the proletariat and to enable the bourgeois to control social order by making social inequalities seem as though they were Gods choice. Marxists sees religion as a fantasy, created by the bourgeois to distract the proletariats from acting out. The Marxists perspective on religion is that it splits society into two classes, the bourgeois, who owned factories, land, businesses, machinery and other means of production and the proletariats, who were the labourers, that were taken advantage of by the bourgeois. Marxists believes that religion was used to justify the positions of both the bourgeois and the proletariats by making the proletariats believe that it was gods choice that they were suffering and that they were poor. With that in mind, Marxists believes that religion distracted the proletariats from the suffering that they endured by providing them with false hopes of an afterlife to look forward too. This in effect stopped the proletariat from trying to change social order, as they believed that their fate could not be changed as it was Gods will. Overall Marxists believe that religion was used to promote social inequality and to dull the pain of the suffering and to convince the proletariats to accept their fate in life. He also saw religion as being an instrument of oppression. Marxist wanted to get rid of all organised religion, one disadvantage to this, would be that people would not have a say into the way they live their life.
‘If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of religion’ Functionalists view religion as a positive element to society. They believe it plays a very important role in society, by providing general morals that people could follow. They believe that without religion, society wouldn’t function, and it would cause conflict and disorder of religion and, to also help maintain compliance in the control of society. Functionalists view our society like a machine, which requires all its parts to work. They see religion as being a part of this machine and they believe that without religion, the society could collapse. Durkheim for example believed that religion provided three functions within society such as, social control- like the 10 commandments, they provide a set of rules that are sacred and that all members must abide to, so everyone has the same morals and values. Social cohesion- which help maintain the social glue that keeps society working together, through their shared beliefs
Functionalist also seen religion as a coping mechanism, to help people come to terms with a loss of a loved one or friend, by providing a funeral and a service to allow family and friends to grieve together and help them cope. Overall functionalists only view religion in a positive light and they disregard the negative affects that religion may have in society. One disadvantage of the functionalist’s perspective is that they don’t realise that religion can cause a lot of conflict, for example conflict with other known religions, as beliefs may differ.
In conclusion both perspectives have very different views on religion. Functionalists view religion as a priority that is needed for the society to function, whereas Marxists view religion as a way of keeping the control over the poor. However, they both tend to agree that religion is used as a coping mechanism, to help people cope during hard times.
Functionalists and Marxist theorists both examine the education system in the same way, however they both have very different views on what the education system does for the society. Marxist believe that the education system is used to maintain inequality, whereas the functionalists see it used to teach the younger generation morals, and values, and to teach socialization.
Marxist theory argues that as property taxes fund almost all schools, the schools that are in areas of poverty (the minority) have fewer funds in place than schools in richer areas (mostly white people). So, students that attend schools with higher funds receive a better education due to having access to better learning material, to help prepare them and to help them progress onto higher education, which provides them with a greater advantage of getting a high paying job, whereas the students who attend the low funding schools learn obedience and basic learning skills so, they have less of an advantage of getting a well-paid job.
Functionalists on the other hand strongly disagree with the Marxist perspective, they believe that the educational system is beneficial to the functioning of society. For example, they believe that it helps prepare everyone for the real world by teaching us morals, core values and social solidarity. Parsons suggests that education teaches all student’s the necessary skills and academic skills that are required to function within society and within the workplace. Parson viewed the educational system as being a fair system and he thought that if one was to fail, it would be down to the individuals work ethic or talent rather than their class or education.
In conclusion Functionalists only view education in a positive way and they believe the educational system is a fair system that provides positive functions to all of its students by providing them with the general skills by testing their abilities to assess what role they would suit and they believe that the education system provides equal opportunities for all, however the Marxists view the education system in a negative way they don’t see any social benefits and believe that its used by the bourgeois to maintain social control and to create a submissive work force.