How Does Social Class Shape Religious Affiliation?
Social class or status is the respect or reputation that is associated to a person’s place or position in a given society. It is also considered a level or title that a person holds in a setting. A person earns their respect and titles in the community through their own individual achievements. However, in the societies of the modern world, there are several determinants of status, which include religion gender, and ethnic groups and they all have an impact. Religion refers to the existence of unique beings whose governance has an impact on life. It involves rituals and practices. Religion forms an essential part in the values and beliefs that are predominant in a society and which serve to ensure that social status is maintained. It facilitates the existence of social category, and order by ensuring that life becomes easy to bear. This is achieved through justification of the class system (Dillon, 2003, p.19).
Sociology giants of the early days such as Max Weber, Georg Simmel and Emile Durkheim while writing their scholarly materials devoted a substantial amount of energy to the analysis of the role that religion plays in the society. Religion is a tremendously powerful force, influential in the human society. It has formed a basis in which the relationships that exist between individuals, family and community are shaped. Human actions are motivated by the beliefs and values existing in a religion. Religion forms a significant role in social life and social element is a vital part of religion (Johnstone, 2007, p.47).
Sociologists study social life and are interested in the study of religion. They have an interest in religion because of two reasons: first is the fact that religion has significance in the lives of individuals. Most individuals value religious practices. This gives a reason why people’s actions and meanings are influenced religious values, which in turn help them in the interpretation of experiences. Second is the fact that religion is subject to sociological scrutiny because it influences society and society has an impact of it (Healey, 2006, p.73). There is a perception that sociology has made people to consider themselves part of a religious group for other reasons besides their belief. An example is the observations made by sociologists of the individuals who belong to upper social class. The upper class members of the society are most likely to associate themselves with a different Christian denomination from those individuals who belong to lower social class (Johnstone, 2007, p.52).
A certain class of individuals performs some practices. This explains the reason why social class has had an impact on religion since religion involves different practices. Religion is involved in specific practices and some individuals perform actions that are out of the ordinary expectations. Religion has a dynamic relationship with all the social occurrences and processes. Religion also influences the entire process of socialization. Religion is an independent variable and is therefore, influenced by factors including the social statuses that individuals deem themselves to belong (Dillon, 2003, p.24).
Dillon, M. (2003). Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Healey, J. F. (2006). Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and
Change. New York, NY: Pine Forge Press
Johnstone, R. L. (2007). Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion (8th ed). Upper Saddle
River: Pearson Prentice Hall