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In your final essay, you will demonstrate your understanding of the sociological approaches introduced in the first four weeks of the unit, as well as your understanding of social inequalities relating to class, ethnicity and gender, to analyse an aspect of contemporary social life as covered in the latter part of the unit. Drawing upon the relevant lectures, readings and tutorial discussions from across the unit as a whole, write an academic essay presenting a thoughtful, informed and researched response to one of the following questions:

What kind of changes have occurred in Australian family life since the mid-twentieth century? What social forces have contributed to these changes?


Do you agree that the cultural elements of a country, including its history and immigration, give rise to a distinct style of religious expression? Discuss in relation to contemporary Australia.


Furze at al. suggest that media is important in creating community and identity. How has this changed in the digital era? Discuss.


How does thinking sociologically help us to understand the role(s) and significance of sport or leisure in contemporary Australia?
To what extent are citizens in Australia able to bring about political change? What are the mechanisms for this, and what are the barriers?

Understanding Religion and Culture

The purpose of the following paper is to make a profound discourse about religious expression, socio-cultural elements and significance of history, in order to understand whether a distinct style of religious expression is determined or influenced by the history, immigration and cultural elements of a country or not. To pursue the aforementioned aim, the paper will concentrate on identifying the individual relationship between culture, religion, social norms, history and immigration. Based on the identified interpersonal relationships of the aforementioned aspects, the paper is going to understand whether these aspects give rise to distinct religious expression or not.

A religion is considered as a particular system of beliefs that is fundamentally established based on the ideas about origins, existence and existential purpose (Foucault 2013). Therefore, it can be said that the primary definition of religion itself indicates that it is a distinct aspect determined by origin and existence. It is indicative of the relation between history and religion and its role in determining a particular religious approach. On the other hand, culture is considered as the definition of social forces within a community that is integrated with particular behavior and orientation related to food consumption, dating rituals, and interpersonal relationship and forming entertainment (Dawson 2013). Religion on the other side is the aspect that defines the way a community can interpret its role in the Universe. As per Roy (2014), religion is an attempt to give answers to existential questions and works as a functional light for serving specific purpose in the society. Cultural norms, which derive from history, existential purpose and behavioral characteristics of a particular group of people, shape distinct religious orientation by teaching who to worship and how to worship (Jamal and Sharifuddin 2015). Henceforth, it can be said that local culture is one of the primary determinants of particular religious orientation.

According to Fitzgerald (2014), culture shapes individuals’ mind and behavior based on the ideas, practices as well as material objects that a particular group of people pursues. Therefore, the term – culture is primarily indicative of a particular set of behavioral attitudes. Cultural norms on the other hand, are a set of agreed expectation as well as rules those guide and maintain the behavior of the members of a particular cultural group. It can be considered that historical events like warfare, geographical and scientific invention, literary creation and events related to society and human population and its consequences curve the status and form of varied cultures (Disch 2016). Further, the result bought out by the historical activities redefines and reestablish cultural beliefs, which finally curves different religious orientation. However, in this context, it is essential to mention that in terms of cultural element, class is one of the potential determining aspects that are known to be a useful weapon for explaining power. Class is therefore a social division that is dependent upon an individual’s economic orientation. With times, socialization has changed, the concept of class has changed, and its influence on the cognitive development of human individual and cognitive development and orientation is one of the chief aspects, which helps in forming individual special religious orientation.

Cultural Norms and Their Role in Shaping Religious Orientation

Therefore, culture, which goes through constant process of transformation, changes, modifies or newly establishes an individual religious orientation through cognitive development. Sociological imagination, which is another part of culture, enables an individual to identify the connection between personal troubles or perceptions and the social structures. One of the fundamental purposes of religious activities is to identify the existential significance of humans and their relationship with god. Understandably, to accomplish so, there is the need for sociological imagination.

For example, after the two consecutive world wars, the hunger for oil grew and consequently, most of developed and power mongering countries became a threat for the developing and relatively poor oil producing territories like the Middle Eastern countries. The financial as well as social insecurity and helplessness forced some of the fundamentalists of the Middle Eastern countries to use religion and religious aspects as a weapon or justification for inflicting atrocities and violence against humanity (Röder 2014). Here a distinct religious expression has been established for the political purpose. Hence, political history and status play a potential role in establishing a new religious expression. On the other side, immigration also plays a significant role in shaping particular religious expressions. In the context of Australia, it should be contemplated that since the historical occurrence of World War II, the development of religious faith has been pursued highly by the immigration. Consequently, Australia is now called one of those places, where religious diversity is strongly evident (Kashima and Abu-Rayya 2014). Since Australia has become one of the most convenient places for migration, individuals from varied foreign countries started to immigrate. Over the last ten years, most of the religious groups have been grown up with highest amount of immigrants from foreign lands. Moreover, recent immigration in the country has increased religious orientation of Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. It has been understood from the census that through the birth of the new generation of the immigrants the new religious orientations are growing (Koopmans 2013).

Therefore, from the above brief discourse it can be said that immigration, in the contemporary era is determined by a historical event like war and Military confrontation, and immigration is one of the potential aspects that give rise to religious expressions. Here, it should be elaborated that historical events and the event of immigration creates individual social groups, which further creates particular cultural norms based on the neighborhood, communication and the contemporary economic condition (Hughes and Fraser 2014). With the formulation of cultural norms, a set of new behavior builds up and this finally gives rise to a new religious expression. Hence, the entire process can be interpreted as a system where religious behavior is derived from particular cultural norms, which derive from immigration or other historical movements. Therefore, it can be said that the cultural beliefs are the primary source that determines the rise of a particular religious expression.

In this context, it should be considered that social change, which is a frequent event in the history of humankind, highly influences the cultural aspects of a particular cultural group. Most of the time, due to potential social changes the cultural norms or rules of a distinct religious group changes. Change in cultural norms means necessary or optional change in priesthood, monasticism and different notions of sacrifice and dedication towards god. Henceforth, it is a worth admitting fact that rise of a particular religious expression is highly determined by another variable – social causes (Koopmans 2013). It is thus a worth admitting fact that cultural and historical elements and any kind of change in those elements influence people’s religious orientation. As mentioned before, Australia is considered as a multi-faith territory that started to establish before the European settlement. The Aboriginal people of Australia prior to the European settlement started to follow the belief system those have been embedded in the aboriginal oral tradition and is based on the ancestral influence and reverence for the lands. Further, belief regarding the interconnectedness of natural, spiritual as well as human phenomenon continues to shape the religious orientation of the Aboriginal people (Hughes and Fraser 2014). Later, with the immigration of the European immigrants and with the arrival of the chaplains of the Church of England Methodist as well as Baptists faith established in Australia. The aforementioned set of events are indicative of the fact that lifestyle, socio-cultural norms of the Aboriginal people give birth to a distinct religious expression. On the other hand, the predominant religious expression of Australia modified by the immigration of the European people in Australia and their socio-cultural habits and religious orientation. For example, the religious expression of Buddhism in Australia established after the immigration from the South East Asia right after the Vietnam War (Kashima and Abu-Rayya 2014). Moreover, the religious orientation of Hinduism and Muslim grew throughout the nineteenth century with the immigration from the South East and Middle East Asia.

Thus, from the above discourse, it has been understood that cultural, historical elements and the event of immigration give rise to a distinct style of religious expression. However, the above discourse has also pointed out the fact that in the contemporary world, the political circumstances is also a determining variable for influencing religious orientation. The evidences presented above are indicative of the fact that in Australia, immigration has played a relatively potential role in establishing varied religious expressions.

References

Dawson, C., 2013. Religion and culture. CUA Press.

Disch, L., 2016. Representation. In The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory.

Fitzgerald, T., 2014. Religion and the secular: Historical and colonial formations. Routledge.

Foucault, M., 2013. Religion and culture. Routledge.

Hughes, P. and Fraser, L., 2014. Life, Ethics and Faith in Australian Society: Facts and Figures (No. 13). Christian Research Associati.

Jamal, A. and Sharifuddin, J., 2015. Perceived value and perceived usefulness of halal labeling: The role of religion and culture. Journal of Business Research, 68(5), pp.933-941.

Kashima, E.S. and Abu-Rayya, H.M., 2014. Longitudinal associations of cultural distance with psychological well-being among Australian immigrants from 49 countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45(4), pp.587-600.

Koopmans, R., 2013. Multiculturalism and immigration: A contested field in cross-national comparison. Annual Review of Sociology, 39, pp.147-169.

Röder, A., 2014. Explaining religious differences in immigrants' gender role attitudes: the changing impact of origin country and individual religiosity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(14), pp.2615-2635.

Roy, O., 2014. Holy ignorance: When religion and culture part ways. Oxford University Press (UK).

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