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  1. 1. What this booklet does –It provides an overview of all the key sociologists in Beliefs inSociety.What is does not do –It does not give an outline of how these arguments can bejuxtaposed. This is for you to do in your revision;juxtaposition is especially important in the 18mark questionand the essay.
  2. 2. Links to exam scripts / specimen mark scheme; mark scheme question paperTOPICS THAT WE HAVE STUDIED;DEFINING RELIGIONKey terms Definitions This view looks at the substance of religion itself e.g. For example, Max Weber (1905) defines religion as a belief in a superior or Substantive view of religion supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically. The substantive view of religion is an exclusive view This view looks at the functions of religion. Marxists and Functionalists take this view; Functional definitions of religion are inclusive – allowing us to include a wide range of Functional view of religion beliefs and practices that perform functions. Social constructionists take an interpretivist approach that focuses on how members if society themselves define religion. They argue that it is not possible to produce a Social constructivist view of religion universal definition of religion to cover all cases, since in reality different individuals and groups mean very different things by religion.
  3. 3. Key terms Definition A widespread view of religion that incorporates things that might take on Inclusivist ‘religious’ characteristics e.g. Bellah’s civil religion. A view of religion that places a definite line between what is religious and what isn’t. Exclusivist A view of religious that looks at the ‘inside out’ – i.e. how people make sense of religion Social Constructivist and how they collectively define it. Hence, religion is a ‘social construction’. NB - Remember, defining religion is not easy. This is a key point you will be making in theexam. It is a subjective concept, arguably value laden, difficult to operationalise (researchinto) and carries with it a degree of sensitivity.THEORIES OF RELIGIONFunctionalismMalinowski, Durkheim, Parsons, BellahSociologist Concepts /arguments Totemism; the idea an object may be selected (often taken from the natural world) to be a symbol of group membership. Durkheim Collective conscience – a totem represents the collective values of that community / society. Sacred / Profane – A totem has many sacred qualities unlike an every day object which is simply profane (just ordinary!) Parsons Value consensus – Argues that religion promotes a value consensus in society. Trobriand Islands – The Island where Malinowski did his anthropological study. Malinowski
  4. 4. Psychological functions – Argues that religion had many important psychological and social functions. Bellah Civil Religion – Argued that there can be a religion of the masses – a civil religion that cuts across class, gender, different faith backgrounds, age and ethnicity. An example is Americanism. This civil religion generates a widespread loyalty to the nation while also incorporating supernatural beliefs.MarxismSociologist Concepts / arguments Opium of the masses – Argued that religion ‘drugs’ working class people into accepting Marx inequality and distracting them from the reality of their situation. False consciousness – As such religion gives working class people a false consciousness and a false sense of hope and security. Alienation – Marx also sees religion as the product of alienation; (alienation = to be separated from something). Caste System – A good example of a belief system that reproduces class divides.FeminismThose who argue that religion is an expression of patriarchy;
  5. 5. Feminist Concepts / arguments Jean Holm Argues that women nearly always take on a subordinate role in religion. Naival El Saadawi Distinguishes between authentic religions that practice truth, equality and justice and oppressive religions that promotes patriarchy. She argues that religion started to become patriarchal through the misinterpretation of religious beliefs by men. To Beauviour, religion acts in very similar ways to those in which Marx suggested Simone de Beauviour religion could act for oppressed classes. She argued that women are deceived by religion in to thinking they are equal to men despite their evident inequality. Karen Armstrong Sees women’s exclusion from the priesthood as evidence of their marginalisation. Woodhead Argues that the exclusion of women from the Catholic priesthood demonstrates the Church’s deep unease about the liberation of women generally.Those who say it’s not so bad!Sociologist Concepts / aguments
  6. 6. Reminds us that, although religion is currently patriarchal it hasn’t always been; Karen Armstrong the early religions often placed women at the centre. El Saadawi Although arguing that religion is misinterpreted by men, religion is not the cause of women’s subordination. Woodhead Argues that not all religious custom is patriarchal e.g. the wearing of the hijab symbolises liberation NOT oppression.RELIGION AS A CONSERVATIVE FORCE OR AFORCE OF CHANGE
  7. 7. RELIGION AS A CONSERVATIVE FORCE 1) Religion can often be seen as a conservative force in the sense of being ‘traditional’; defending traditional customs, institutions, moral views, roles etc. In other words, it upholds traditional beliefs about how society should be organised.So it is conservative in nature 2) It is also conservative because it functions to conserve or preserve things as they are. It stabilises society and maintains the status quo. So, it is conservative in its role.Those who argue religion is a Key argumentsconservative force Functionalists see religion as a conservative force because it functions to maintain social stability and prevent society from disintegrating. Durkheim, for example, believed that individuals are naturally selfish Functionalism and so religion ensures that this integral characteristic of humans is not encouraged. Functionalists such as Durkheim and Parsons argue that religion reinforces the collective conscience and therefore stabilises the individual and wider society. Marx sees religion as a conservative ideology that prevents social change. By legitimising inequality by offering a false hope to the working class (proleteriat). By legitimising this inequality, religion is another Marxism force used by the ruling class (bourgeoisie) to prevent the workers from developing a class consciousness and calling for a revolution. Feminists see religion as a conservative force because it acts as an ideology that legitimates patriarchal power and maintains women’s subordination in the family and Feminism wider societyThose who argue that religion should be Key argumentsconservative in nature
  8. 8. Neo Functionalists (the New Right) also argue that religion’s conservative force brings many benefits to society. However, they suggest that, sadly, religion has lost its Neo Functionalists influence (secularisation) and therefore religious values need to be promoted again. By promoting religion this will bring back stability in society.The in -betweeners; Those who say religion can beconservative in nature yet still a force of change; Key arguments Steve Bruce The Christian Right in the USA Islamic Fundamentalism (remember the case study of the Iranian revolution here). A focus on fundamentalism Key arguments • Defines fundamentalism as; • A group of people who perceive that there is a challenge to an ultimate authority, usually a god, in which they believe. • These people decide that this challenge cannot be tolerated. • They reaffirm their belief in the authority Donald Taylor that is being challenged. • They oppose those who have challenged the established beliefs, and often they use political means to further their case.RELIGION AS A FORCE OF CHANGE
  9. 9. Sociologist Key concepts / arguments Steve Bruce The American Civil Rights movementMax Weber (use your Theory and Methods Calvinism, the Protestant work ethic, notes to help here). predestined, salvation anxiety, divine transcendence, instrumental rational action . The Calvinists tried to be as instrumentally rational as possible – paving the making sense of their salvation anxiety and trying to deny any luxuries in the process; as their wealth and success performed a psychological function for the Calvinists that allowed them to cope with this salvation anxiety. Max Weber argued that religion can help shape the entire economic system and even bring radical changes to society as a whole. This is illustrated in his work on the “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Calvinism”. Calvinism encouraged (as a result of John Calvin’s teachings) the ideals of thrift, efficiency, denial of indulgent behaviour and making maximum use of ones talents. Neo Marxists – including... Key arguments / concepts
  10. 10. Although he recognised that, in the main, religion was a form of oppression, he didFriedrich Engels notice that at certain stages in history for example, religion that stood for the “here and now” could be used as a rallying cry for the oppressed.Antonio Gramsci Counter hegemony Remember he compared the experience of coalminers who were religious with textile workers in Kentucky, USA in the 1930’s For Billings, working class people can use their religious faith to challenge the status quo if they have these three ‘traits’; • Leadership – The miners benefitedDwight Billings from strong leadership of intellectuals – many of whom were lay preachers and were themselves miners and trade union activists. • Organisation and space – The miners themselves were able to use independent churches to hold meetings, whereas the textile workers lacked such spaces. • Support – The churches kept miners’ morale high with supportive sermons, prayer meetings and group singing whereas, by contrast, textile workers who engaged in union activity met with opposition from local church leaders who branded themselves as communist. He recognised that religion can aid social liberation - particularly if the oppressed take their discontent to the churches e.g. as in Latin America. Otto Maduro In this way the anguish and demands of the oppressed can be voiced by the clergy. Bloch also sees religion as having a dual character. He argues for a view of religion that recognises both its positive and negative influence on social change. As a Neo Marxist
  11. 11. Ernst Bloch he accepts that religion can inhibit change, but he emphasises that it can also inspire protest and rebellion. For Bloch, religion is an expression of the ‘principle of hope’ - The Liberation Theology Key arguments / conceptsRemember Neo Marxists refer to theLiberation Theology as an example of howreligion is a force of change. Gramsci saysthat the Liberation Theology is a goodexample of how working class intellectualscan develop a counter hegemony against theruling class; Liberation theology is a movement which argues that the Christian gospels show God as having a particular concern for the marginalized and oppressed. It sees God’s action for the poor as a key interpretative tool in reading the Bible, and a decisive element in the vocation and mission of the church Key examples; Jon Sobrino (above) Jon Sobrino is a Jesuit priest, a highly regarded scholar and was formerly theological adviser to the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador – gunned down by US-backed death squads for his advocacy on behalf of the poor. Other Salvadorean priests and theologians were also killed in the 1980s.NB – Also note Millenarianism and NRMS here.THE SECULARISATION THESISTHOSE WHO ARGUE IT’S OCCURING
  12. 12. Secularisation means the decline of religion. But this is not an easy concept todefine.How can you ‘prove’ that religion has been in decline?There are two ways of viewing secularisation; 1. Disengagement – This describes how religion has lost its influence over certain areas of life – such as politics, the family, the economic system etc. And to it has become ‘detached’ or ‘disengaged’ from our everyday life. 2. Disenchantment – This describes how we have become disillusioned / disenchanted with religion in giving us a purpose / meaning in our life. We are more likely to turn to other things now to give us meaning – such as music, fashion, friends etc.NB: It’s very important to pick up on this in the exam. Many who rely on thesecularisation argument use statistics to forward their case. Do statisticsreally tell the whole story? Think about the methodological limitations ofstatistics in this context. Sociologists Concepts / Arguments Marx believed that capitalism was the penultimate era of human society. The final Marxism era of human society, communism, would follow the overthrow of capitalism. Within this final era religion would not be needed. Protestantism has made us more rational and it is this rationality which has now come Weber back to haunt religion! We are using our logic and rationality to question the credibility of religion. Hamilton Agrees with Weber – religion is its own gravedigger Sociologists Concepts / Arguments Adopts an interpretivist view of religion and argues the above; Protestantism tended to demystify the world and, in turn, created a
  13. 13. plurality of life worlds. As such, Protestantism had the effect of sidelining Berger religion; it was a victim of its own rational thought. Argues that we have gained a technological worldview of the world now which tends to Steve Bruce marginalise religion as a result. With the decline of the community, religion has lost its functions. Religion can no longer Bryon Wilson claim to hold a monopoly over the truth.THOSE WHO SAY RELIGION IS JUST ADAPTING NOTDECLININGNB: It is here where you will talk a lot about the post modern argument and religion.Those with a * are Post Modern arguments. Sociologist Key concepts / arguments Argued that religion, through the industrial revolution, went through a process of Talcott Parsons structural differentiation; in a way, therefore, it didn’t become less important it just became more streamlined. Interestingly, Berger (1999) changed his views on religion and now argues that the Berger increasing diversity and choice present in our society actually stimulates interest and growth in religion. Beckford (2003) agrees, suggesting that, with increased choice and diversity, while Beckford some may choose to be less religious, there is an increasing potential for people to make the choice to strengthen their religious views tooSociologist Key concepts / arguments Stark and Bainbridge argue that those who argue that secularisation is occurring are very Eurocentric – i.e. they are focused on the decline of religion in Europe and fail to
  14. 14. see that religion is on the rise elsewhere. According to Stark and Bainbridge, therefore, there is always a market for Stark and Bainbridge religion. Indeed, religion is attractive because it acts as a compensation from the economic market – where people can’t quite get what they want through the economic market, they will turn to the religious market to get what they want. This is known as the religious market theory. Stark and Bainbridge argue that the main factor that shapes the level of religious participation is not the level of demand but rather the amount of supply. So, the more supply there is the more demand it will generate. This is known as the supply led argument. Norris and Inglehart argue that the reason for variations in religiosity between societies is not different degrees of religious choice, but different degrees of existential Norris and Inglehart security. By this, they mean ‘the feeling that survival is secure enough that it can be taken for granted’. Hence, poorer countries are more religious than richer countries. Argues that religion isn’t in decline, it is just that it is becoming increasingly privatised. Grace Davie I.e. Less and less people publicly expressing their faith. Another key concept here is vicarious religion; This means that a large group of people will use religion at less frequent periods; only in important less changing events – so religion is still very relevant.Sociologist Key concepts / Arguments Argues that religion has been displaced (i.e. shifted in form) and is increasingly finding a new existence in the media e.g. televangelism. David Lyon *
  15. 15. Argues that with the increasing diversity of religion people are becoming spiritual Daniel Hervieu-Leger * shoppers, picking and mixing what they wish to believe in. It is NRM’s that benefit here as they take on a syncretic tendency – i.e. ready made mixture of beliefs! Argue that religion is becoming more not less important in a late modern / post Bauman and Giddens * modern world. Argues that fundamentalism is a good example of how religion is not declining. Castells * Fundamentalism comes about because it a resistance identity against globalisation and post modernism.Other key concepts with post Decline of metanarratives, reflexivity,modernism fragmentation, globalisation, uncertainty, choice, hybrid identity, media saturationGLOBALISATION AND RELIGION*Remember to challenge the term globalisation if a question on this.Remember too, the argument that religion is the ORIGINAL GLOBALISERThose who argue that globalisation has a negative impact on religion;
  16. 16. Sociologist Key concepts / arguments Sees globalisation as causing more fundamentalist tendencies. Giddens Argues that globalisation also causes more fundamentalist tendencies. Bauman Argues that fundamentalism is a resistance identity. Castells Looks at two types of fundamentalism; fundamentalism in the west and Bruce fundamentalism in the developing world.**Remember to look at Iran and Poland as two good case studies here in illustratinghow.Those who argue that globalisation can have a positive impact on religionSociologist Argument / Key concepts As well as globalisation being potentially damaging it can ‘enhance our productive Manuel Castells capacity, cultural creativity and communication potential’. Looks at how globalisation has been beneficial to religion in India; giving Indians Meera Nanda an ultra nationalism and reinforcing Hindu beliefs among middle class Indians. Looks at Confucianism as a productive religious belief in the context of globalisation Gordon Redding – encouraging greater economic productivity, self discipline and a commitment to self improvement – values conducive to globalisation.Sociologist Key Ideas / Arguments Looks at Pentecostalism benefitting from globalisation as it is able to ‘plug into’ local Lehman beliefs.
  17. 17. Pentecostalism, particularly, connects with the under privileged in both the developing world and the developed world. Both imply that religion benefits from globalisation by opening up to a world market Stark and Bainbridge (Stark and Bainbridge) by finding a new existence in the media (David Lyon). David LyonIs globalisation the cause of fundamentalism?Here’s a sample of what some people said; ‘Globalisation is a very hard thing tostop, with worldwide media like TV and the internet having so much power now. It isa no win situation, as some cultures in the world don’t want to be globalised.Globalisation is guilty of enforcing its ideas on different societies – particularlywestern culture on countries like Iran. These countries see globalisation as a threatand therefore turn to globalisation. In post modernity globalisation is unavoidable’.Someone went for a different argument;‘Why does fundamentalism in a ‘neutral’ form need to be tackled anyway; onlyextremist forms should need to be tackled as these are the ones which causeproblems such as terrorism. Globalisation would be a different force to tackle as it’san integral part of post modern society – it makes up a lot of world trade and it isnecessary for the economy. The unfairness of globalisation could be tackled as away of tackling extremist fundamentalists e.g. stopping the exploitation of workers inpoorer countries. Globalisation should be careful not to impose western values onnon western ones as this will inhibit people from joining fundamentalist religions.CLASSIFICATIONS OF RELIGIOUS TYPECHURCHES, DENOMINATIONS, SECTS AND CULTS
  18. 18. Here we are looking at the difference between churches, denominations, sects andcults.You have a revision document on this (remember the big A3 grid). It is important,however, to recognise that it is Ernst Troeltsch that used these terms.NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTSSociologist Key arguments / concepts Coined the term new religious movements and identified three types; Wallis World Affirming Groups – They tend to accept the world as it is, but may employ techniques which allow the individual to participate more effectively and gain more experience from their worldly experience. World Rejecting Groups – …whilst many World Rejecting Groups are very similar to many sects as they are always highly critical of the outside world and demand significant commitment from their members. In some ways, they are quite like conventional religions in the sense that they seek to study sacred text and have strong ethical codes. They are often millenarian – expecting divine intervention to change the world. and; World Accommodating Groups – This final category of religious movement is more likely to be orthodox. They maintain some connections with mainstream religion but place a higher value on inner religious life. They seek to establish older certainties and faith whilst also giving them a new vitality.NEW AGE MOVEMENTSSociologist Key concepts / arguments
  19. 19. Argues that New Age movements are characterised by two common themes; Heelas Self spirituality – New Agers have turned away from traditional ’external’ religions such as the church and instead have felt it more necessary to look for the answer ‘within’ themselves and to find enlightenment. Going further, Heelas argues that, in the New Age belief it is the self that is seen as a ‘sacred object’. Detraditionalisation – New Agers have rejected the spiritual authority of the church and instead want something far less traditional; new age beliefs offer this. Argues that new age movements are a sign of modernity, not post modernity. Steve Bruce Similarly, Heelas argues this point.GENDER AND RELIGION
  20. 20. Sociologist Key Arguments / Concepts Found that women express greater interest in religion, have a stronger personal commitment to it and attend church more. Also argue women are more religious because they are socialised to be more passive, obedient and caring. These are qualities values by most religions, so it Miller and Hoffman follows that women are more likely that women are more likely to be attracted to religion. Additionally they also note that women are more likely than men to work part time, or to be full time carers. So they have more scope for organising their time to participate in religious activities. Argues that taking care of other family members increases women’s religious faith because it offers reassurance to them and helps with their spiritual and emotional Greeley welfare. Argues that women’s experiences in life and the fact that they may be at a closer Davie proximity to death (through illness themselves, through looking after sick relative, through childbirth etc) makes them feel it necessary to be religious. A lot of religions promote the importance of nature and this is something that, arguably, Steve Bruce women are more interested in. Arguably, too, women are more likely to be more analytical of their feelings than men. Callum Brown Religion encourages this inner soul searching that many women may crave. Glock and Stark Argue that people may participate in religion because it compensates for what women may Stark and Bainbridge lack.Finally;Sociologist Key Argument / Concepts
  21. 21. Notes the drastic decline in drastic decline’ in church going among women aged 30-45. BrierlyETHNICITY AND RELIGION
  22. 22. Sociologist Key concepts / Arguments Cultural Defence - Bruce argues that religion in such situations offers support and Steve Bruce a sense of cultural identity in an uncertain or hostile environment. Argues that religion among minorities can be a basis for community solidarity, a mean’s Bird of preserving ones culture and language, and a way of coping with oppression in a racist society. Cultural Transition - This is an explanation that Will Herberg (1955) gives for the high Will Herberg levels of religious participation among first generation immigrants in the USA – religion allows first generation immigrants to cope with the cultural transition from one culture to another. Bruce sees a similar pattern in the history of immigration into the UK, where religion has provided a focal point for Irish, African Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and other communities. Also found that cultural transition caused African Caribbean’s to seek solace in Ken Pryce religion.Sociologist Key concepts / Arguments Found evidence of a decline among all ethnic groups in religious belief. Modood et alAGE AND RELIGION
  23. 23. Sociologist Key Arguments / Concepts Looked at two explanations for why older people (with the exception of those over 65) Voas and Crocket are more religious; • The ageing effect This is the view that people turn to religion as they get older. As we approach death we ‘naturally’ become more concerned with spiritual matters and the afterlife, repenting our past misdeeds etc. As a result we are more likely to go to church. • The generational effect This is the view that as society becomes more secular, each new generation is less religious than before. Thus, there are more old people than young people in church congregations today, simply because for the older generation religion is more important to them than the new, younger generation.RELIGION, SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY
  24. 24. SCIENCE AS AN OPEN SYSTEMFigure Key Arguments / concepts Argued that science is an open system Karl Popper Also that it is cumulative and; Is governed by a process of falsification which makes it a very progressive belief system. Sees science as characterised by; Merton Community – all scientists share a common set of beliefs and principles and research is published within this community. Universality – There is a standardised, objective and unicversal set of scientific criteria in place to which all scientists abide by. Disinterestedness / Directness – Scientists are not interested in any thing else but to advance scientific understanding. Organised Sceptism – There is a respect of each other but this respect is based upon a healthy sceptism of each others work. These characteristics are known as the CUDOS principles – very important to know!RELIGION AS A CLOSED SYSTEMSociologist Key Arguments / Concepts He distinguishes between open and closed belief systems and argues that religion remains a closed belief system because it refuses to open to change / scrutiny and Robin Horton makes knowledge claims that cannot be over-turned.Sociologist Key Arguments / Concepts
  25. 25. Argues that religion, by being a closed system is digging its own grave. Hamilton Looks at how religion, by being a closed system, tries to explain away things. Evans Pritchard Evans Pritchard looks at the Azande in Sudan as an example of this.SCIENCE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM / NOT AS GOOD A SYSTEM AS ITPORTRAYS.Sociologist Key concepts / Arguments Argues that scientists work within a paradigm (a set way of thinking / behaving) which shows how science is a more closed system than it potrays itself to Kuhn be. Argues that science develops in a chaotic way and the advances of science have not Feyeband been gradual. Argues that science is socially constructed and so it is open to flaws, assumptions and Knorr Cetina invalidity. Argues that scientists are engaged in making sense of the world in just the same Steve Woolger way as anyone else Point out how scientists allow themselves to be influenced by big business. Philo and Miller Argues that science is simply one version of the truth. Bauman Looks at how science has tried to become dominant in a post modern society. Uses the Foucalt methods of deconstruction and semiology in investigating this.SCIENCE IS A FAR MORE OPEN AND THEREFORE MORE ACCEPTABLE BELIEFSYSTEM THAN RELIGION. DISCUSSFOR THOSE WHO AGREED WITH THE STATEMENT
  26. 26. You pointed out the achievements of science.You highlighted the arguments of Popper and Merton.You made the claim that science, as its testable, falsifiable and therefore progressive, hasthe right to call itself a more acceptable belief system than religion itself.HOWEVERThose who challenged this argument argued;How can science be a more open system when its influenced by big business and when itmay be inherently conservative in nature (see Kuhn’s paradigms).One made the point, how does being an ‘open’ system mean that it is more acceptable?One also put forward the point that people are increasingly becoming dissatisfied withscience – so how can it claim to be an acceptable belief system?Many argued that if science was such an acceptable belief system, how can it explain thedamage it has done (and arguably will do in the future?)Some said that if science is an open system surely that means that it lacks any certainty andwill always remain an ‘uprooted’ system.FOR THOSE WHO DISAGREED WITH THE STATEMENTYou highlighted the problems with science by referring to Kuhn, interpretivism,ethnomethodology, Marxism, Feminism and Post Modernism.You argued that religion has a positive, universal function.You also argued that it has an eternal function because it has a ‘spiritual underpinning’You also argued that one musn’t generalise with religion – many aspects of religion aremore open than science.HOWEVERThose who challenged this argument argued that religion, by its mere nature, is inherentlyclosed,And, by refusing to change it is sealing its own fate.You also argued that religion causes much conflict – in that way how can it be an acceptablebelief system.Some highlighted the corruption within religion that undermines its legitimacy.
  27. 27. Finally many argued that religion cannot compete with science.YETI have to side with those who said that we cannot compare the two – it would be wrong to doso – we should not reduce the debate to a false dichotomy – i.e. a false set of optionsbetween science and religionIDEOLOGYSociologist Key concepts / Arguments Argued that there exists a dominant ruling class ideology that promotes a false Marx consciousness. Argued that working class people need to wake up from this and to develop a true class consciousness, turning from a class in itself to a class for itself. Developed Marx’s ideas. Argued that working class people experience a dual Grasmci consciousness – they have this ruling class ideology (hegemony) imposed on them but also contrast it with their own situation. Argues that working class intellectuals can get together to form a counter hegemony that punches through the dominant. Argued that we need to create a free flowing intelligentsia which stands above Mannheim the ideological conflicts. Describes how ideas from science have been used to justify excluding women from education. She quotes C19th male doctors, scientists and educationalists expressing the Pauline Marks view that educating females would lead to the creation of ‘a new race of puny and unfeminine’ females and ‘disqualify women from their true vocation’, namely the nurturing of children.