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Religion as a Tool in Social Dominance Theory

“Social dominance theory was put forth by two researchers, Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto, in 1999. Specifically, Sidanius and Pratto attempted to explain how, and why, social structures seemed to be supported by an unspoken hierarchy of groups based on a number of different traits. These multiple hierarchies may be based on gender, race, age, economic status, and other characteristics – either naturally recurring or obtained.

According to social dominance theory, these hierarchies influence how equitable the allocation of resources is and how the distribution of undesirable work and/or roles are assigned.”

Source: Social Dominance Theory: Definition & Examples

A small (3 page) outline of the theory is available here

From the outline: ” … Moreover, societies
recognize the legal rights of dominants and
portray their ways of living as virtuous and
characteristic of the whole society, whereas
subordinates receive little social recognition
and are even stigmatized. Group dominance
societies also feature an intersecting kind
of group oppression, namely sexism,
men holding disproportionate power and
freedoms compared with women, and
heterosexism being privileged over other
kinds of sexuality”

This is very interesting in the context of the current political climate. Particularly in how religious groups jockey for privileged status in everything from opposing non-discrimination statutes (when they regard other groups), to extraordinary tax benefits.

This can be seen in a rather shocking way when you create a comparative scale of priorities where values are assigned to events which affect the in-group vs. the out-group. Consider the War on Christmas, or the bakers who might suffer the heinous fate of having to write Happy Wedding! on a cake for a gay couple. This mindset allows for writing on a cake to be classed as utterly intolerable while at the same time excusing egregious acts suffered by other groups. And by egregious I mean things like the defence of apartheid in South Africa, the support for the death penalty or life imprisonment for gays in Uganda and so forth.

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34 comments on “Religion as a Tool in Social Dominance Theory

  1. Steve Ruis
    July 6, 2018

    As you probably know, I believe that a religion cannot thrive or even survive unless it coerces the labor of the masses to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites. I suspect this fits quite well in the aforementioned theory. I will read the summary you provide.

    This idea has been mentioned for a very long time but not much attention has been paid to it (probably because it does not serve the interests of the secular and religious elites to do so.

    Liked by 5 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 6, 2018

      Yes, that does fit perfectly with SDT. What they’ve done is formulate it with some care as to not allow for the usual outright dismissal (as some like to do with racism, sexism etc.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jim-
    July 6, 2018

    Fascinating yet simple article. Even the hint of broadened equality represents a threat to religious influence and dominance.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 6, 2018

      When we put things on a grid, the results are incredible. Kim Davis’ right not to stamp a marriage certificate is of primordial importance. So important in the religious group’s mindset it overrides the right to basic civil protections for a member of people in the out-group.

      Another interesting example is the kneeling during the anthem at football games. The racism suffered by African Americans is dismissed or ignored while an act of protest is treated as an incredibly grave offence.
      An Irish activist put it brilliantly a few years ago by calling it a Neat Orwellian Trick.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Professor Taboo
        July 6, 2018

        Great points Pink! The Kim Davis debacle clearly demonstrated the lack of jurisdiction of our federal documents, protection and enforcements on the state levels. I get more and more annoyed with just how much leverage our state’s have over Washington D.C. — until it is gravely needed with the baffoon we now have in our White House.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 6, 2018

        Yes, but imagine how much worst things can get depending on the next supreme court pick :/

        Liked by 4 people

      • Professor Taboo
        July 6, 2018

        Yes, exactly. Most all reports are that it will happen in favor of a tRump selection. It does not look good at all. 😖

        Liked by 5 people

      • maryplumbago
        July 7, 2018

        And they’ll be one more after that, as RBG can’t last 6+ or – years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 8, 2018

        Depressing!

        Like

  3. foolsmusings
    July 6, 2018

    It’s incredible how quickly Russia went from communist dogma to religious dogma almost overnight. I guess it’s easy to control people when you give them something to believe in.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 6, 2018

      And of course how a Tsar was substituted by someone with powers very very similar to a Tsar. Lenin is still treated as someone with the divine right to rule.

      Liked by 2 people

      • foolsmusings
        July 6, 2018

        I don’t get it. I don’t feel anyone’s life or opinion for that matter, are more important than my own. People need to stop putting people down n pedestals. Work towards common goals with your neighbours but live your own life. You only get one shot at this

        Liked by 3 people

      • maryplumbago
        July 7, 2018

        We are our own worst enemy

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert A. Vella
    July 6, 2018

    Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    This is very relevant to my recent post on the pretense of judicial impartiality.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Professor Taboo
    July 6, 2018

    There has to be a way for the U.S. to incorporate SDT into our Constitution — attempting to incorporate it into State’s Constitutions is likely a wild pipe-dream right now 🙄 — or within or complimentary to Separation of Church and State? That said, I’ve always thought that SoC&S was explicitly and implicitly pretty clear. HAH! What do I know. 😛

    Great share and info Pink. Thank you Sir!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. inspiredbythedivine1
    July 6, 2018

    “Yes, exactly. Most all reports are that it will happen in favor of a tRump selection. It does not look good at all. 😖” Can’t wait for the first groups of women who’ve had abortions to be arrested and jailed. I wonder how important Hillary’s emails will be then?

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 6, 2018

      The emails “scandal” is actually another fantastic example of improper attribution of value. It falls within the domain of zero tolerance doctrines. And have you noticed how zero tolerance never applies to cases of white collar crime?

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Anony Mole
    July 6, 2018

    As disparity grows, I’d imagine dominant theist groups that offer succor in exchange for obedience will grow more and more powerful. If you have nearly nothing, and some powerful group gives you food and shelter… I’d wager that the 1/2 of the population who are IQ challenged would gladly surrender their intellectual freedom for a marginally better life.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. john zande
    July 6, 2018

    I see social pacification (read, conservatism) as the true utility of religion. Can’t have too many revolutions, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. acflory
    July 6, 2018

    Lizard brain at work. I don’t think homo sapiens will last as long as the dinosaurs.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. maryplumbago
    July 7, 2018

    I’m beginning to agree, acflory. Maybe it’s all encoded in evolution to eventually bring the earth back to its pristine and balanced condition before man was on the scene. We are definitely a vehicle for destruction of each other and the earth”s resources.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Victoria Bigelow
    July 8, 2018

    This starts a discussion we should all be having.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 8, 2018

      I do hope so. People are often inclined to take things at face value without investigating the causes.

      Like

  12. Sirius Bizinus
    July 8, 2018

    Under this theory, isn’t religion or politics just a consequence of groups seeking social dominance? Taking the thought to its extreme, it should describe a natural process by which humans form social structures. It’s like a more complicated form of dogs establishing a hierarchy within a pack.

    What it also means is that this is going to happen regardless of belief in cosmic beings. So long as an in-crowd exists, you’re going to have that crowd fighting for resources and special treatment. I’m not sure how that squares with treating people equally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 8, 2018

      Primarily yes, but we’re not talking about one system that exists to the exclusion of all others. I imagine it’s more layered. There’s undoubtedly a category of people who use religion and politics for social dominance. Especially those in leadership positions.
      There are also “true believers” in both equality and inequality.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. amythysta
    October 14, 2018

    Although I still have a religion I can see where the U.S. tries to use it as a tool. I say often something along the lines–I can see where the anti-christ could sneak into a believed Christian belief system by pretending to love God because everyone wants someone to follow–and some don’t want to question authority.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2018 by in activism, thinking aloud and tagged , , , , , .
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