Functionalists and Marxists do not agree that religion causes change within society. This is because they believe that religion acts as a conservative force within society. A conservative force means that religion prevents change within modern society. On the other hand feminists believe that religion does not act as a conservative force as it has helped to bring some changes within modern society, for example equal rights for women. Weber believes that religion is the force for change within society. Although these views are all 'out of date' they still provide an understanding for society which helps to understand why some view agree with the view that religion acts as a conservative force on modern society.
Durkheim is a functionalist who believed that religion acts as a conservative force on society, he believed that there were sacred things and these were symbolic. What these sacred items represented was a collective consciousness which is a basic set of shared beliefs, values and social norms.
He believed that the collective consciousness keeps the group together which would mean that religion is a conservative force in society. If people did not share the same interests they would want change and would go through religion to change things. Durkheim believed in the division of labour, he said that as society became more complex the collective consciousness would become weaker because people from on group in society did not see themselves as the same as another group. This would cause a change in society because the groups are waning different things. Durkheim examined religion in small-scale, non-literate societies. In today's large scale, complex societies usually contain a variety of different religions. It is possible to see how his ideas do relate to modern society.
Marxism believes that religion acts as a conservative force on society,