The Role of Religion in Sociopolitical Stability

1) What do the conventional sociology and political science literatures argue about the role of religion in sociopolitical stability and why? According to the book, how do Abrahamic monotheisms factor into these effects? 

Conventional sociology literature argues that monotheism played a key role in setting the foundations for social stability. As discussed in Chapter 1 of the WPP Book as well as the class lecture, it was emphasized that in order for social stability to exist, violence, anarchy and abuse of various types of power needed to be eradicated. A way in which this could be done is through the moral self-restraint offered by religions. For example, in some religions the notion of afterlife and whether an individual goes to heaven or hell is of utmost importance, and is driven by the ways in which the individual acts in their current life. Thus, individuals may feel more inclined to act properly and abide by the rules/notions of their religion and therefore societal norms because they want to end up in Heaven. Additionally, Abrahamic monotheisms are characterized by One God- one omnipotent supreme being that has control over the universe and has specific desires/wishes that he wants humans to full-fill that he then communicates to them. This creates an additional level of accountability between a follower and the One God, because the relationship that a follower develops with this One God is personalized and has consequences/benefits that extend into the afterlife. Therefore, faith and theology are important mechanisms by which to constrain human wants and desires, such as health and wealth. Followers often times emphasize and prioritize the immaterial benefits they receive from the Universe and the deity as opposed to fleeting material desires, showing that religion, and especially the Abrahamic monotheisms, can play an important role in sociopolitical stability from the sociological perspective.

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Political scientists, in contrast, have argued that religion and political forces have complemented one another in creating an effective centralized governmental mechanism. They also gathered data and analyzed trends on how religious rivalries or affinities, especially those including the Abrahamic monotheisms, created and maintained violent conflict throughout world history. Religions, when combined with political institutions, often offer more credibility for both the religion as well as the political institution and are able to create more of a following. Abrahamic monotheisms in particular create an added benefit for sociopolitical stability because the subscribers to the religion only believe in that One God (For example: Christianity and Jesus), and thus when these Abrahamic monotheisms are combined with a political institution, they can become the state’s official religion as well as create a higher entry barrier for other religions with rival claims attempting to influence citizens and destabilize the society at large. Political scientists also use conflict data and found that Abrahamic monotheisms in particular, because of their One God notions, were more likely to not only spread faster, but were also more likely to come in conflict with one another, with the conflicts being much more deadly in nature in comparison to those conflicts without a religious componenet.

 

were decreasing over time, the conflicts were getting shorter in nature, but they were getting more deadly. When considering religious conflict, they were not shrinking that fast and they were far deadlier and lasted much longer.

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