Here are the key highlights from the article by Peter Ormerod (link below).
- “Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good,” Prof Stephen Bullivant
- Ormerod argues that it’s a mistake to assume that under 30s have changed that drastically because there is a significant evidence that they are still willing to wholeheartedly embrace alternatives to religion.
- Older generations are not completely embracing rationality either because new age movements such as astrology are enjoying a renaissance
- Linda Woodhead points out that although lots of British teenagers identify that they have no religion, most don’t describe themselves as atheists.
The argument has a political (right vs. left wing) and scientific dimension.
The classic approach could be considered to directly relate to governing whilst the scientific approach is directly linked to Lombroso.
- Started with the enlightenment period which took place during the early industrialisation of Europe, the French Revolution and later, the American Revolution.
During this time the ideas of Cesare Beccaria were influential:
- the power of the monarchy declined
- human rights increased
- freedom increased
- reason was prized over superstition
- Free will was seen as vital
The idea of the social contract also became ubiquitous: that free rational individuals sacrifice part of their freedom so it maintains peace and security.
Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham utilised a ‘hedonistic calculus’ to argue that individuals used a cost benefit analysis between pain and pleasure. Therefore, most people don’t commit crime if the pain will clearly outweigh the pleasure. The action is right if it creates happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness—not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it.
- Cannot assume humans are the same – study the actor not the act
- Imitate the natural science approach
- Subconscious, biological, physiological, stats etc.
- Focus on medical treatment of crime
- Criminals born criminal
E.G Lombroso – profiling according to head size, extra nipples etc.!
How do these ideas link to the beliefs in society topic?
The enlightenment is a key period in social history because it was perhaps the first time the hegemonic status quo was challenged by an organised group of intellectuals which then spread to the public consciousness. One of the reasons some countries in Europe are considered to be more secular is because they experienced the enlightenment. On the other hand, the USA didn’t which has therefore has lead to greater levels of religiosity.
How do these ideas link to the crime and deviance topic?
The classical approach is still very influential particularly upon neo-liberalism (a common ideology throughout the world) which views individuals as rational actors therefore when they commit a crime, they need to be punished fully. The right wing press are an influential part of this ideology. This is very different to the left wing approach which tends to look at wider social factors such as social class.
It could also be argued that there is a subconscious observance to the positivist approach – perhaps legal professionals follow what Cicourel labels the ‘typical deviant’ – someone who might look too dissimilar to the criminal types identified by Lombroso.
Once again, the archbishops of Canterbury and York have sent a letter to its priests to share with their congregations which urges them:
“to set aside apathy and cynicism and to participate, and encourage others to do the same. At a practical level that could mean putting on a hustings event for candidates, volunteering for a candidate, or simply making sure to vote on Thursday 8th June”.
The letter could be used as an excellent example of how religion can encourage social change because it is encouraging British people to support the an “an outward looking and generous country” in addition to other progressive ideas.
Here is the letter: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/06/church-of-england-set-aside-apathy-general-election-archbishops-letter?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Email
From The Guardian:
Faith remains a potent presence at the highest level of UK politics despite a growing proportion of the country’s population defining themselves as non-religious, according to the author of a new book examining the faith of prominent politicians.
Nick Spencer, research director of the Theos thinktank and the lead author of The Mighty and the Almighty: How Political Leaders Do God, uses the example that all but one of Britain’s six prime ministers in the past four decades have been practising Christians to make his point.
So, this is a very good example of how the extent of secularisation has perhaps been exaggerated…
Read on: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/13/religion-faith-still-a-potent-presence-in-uk-politics-says-author?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Email
In class we have been discussing to what extent secularisation is taking place. Shiner argues that one of the key signs of secularisation is when religions ‘disappear’ from public life. Whilst there might be a disappearance compared to the past, often religious leaders are turned to and they act as ‘opinion leaders’ (two step flow) to the British people. An excellent example of this is when religious leaders from five faiths led a minute of silence in tribute to the four innocent victims who were killed during the Westminster terror attack.
Another good example is Radio 4’s Thought for the Day which frequently feature religious leaders.