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May 2, 2018 / C H Thompson

Fundamentalism and religion

Fundamentalism emphasises the role of tradition. Fundamentalists tend to be a conservative force in outlook, especially when it comes to preserving traditional values.

However they’re a radical force in terms of seeking social change in order to preserve tradition by taking things back to the way they once were – a sort of hard-core conservatism. Almond et al defined fundamentalism as a:

‘pattern of religious militancy by which self-styled true believers attempt to arrest the erosion of religious identity…and create viable alternatives to secular institutions and behaviour’.

Fundamentalism causes conflict with other groups who they see as a threat to their religion. However fundamentalist ideas can also be a cause for social change.

Davie came up with a number of characteristics that need to be present in order for fundamentalism to occur:

  • Rapid social change in society
  • A new, powerful leader needs to come forth in order to guide people
  • Internal and external threats to stability in society
  • A process of reaction
  • New social boundaries to guide followers
  • The use of sacred texts to justify actions


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