Definitions of religion

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  • Definitions
    • Substansive
      • focus on the substance of religion.
        • e.g a belief in god/the supernatural.
        • Weber: A belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature & cannot be explained scientifically.
      • Exclusive
        • Draws a clear line between religious & non-religious beliefs
    • Functionalist
      • Defines religion in terms of the psychological & social functions it performs for individuals & society
        • Durkheim: Defines religion in terms of the contribution it makes towards social integration
    • Social interactionist
      • Take an interpretivist approach
        • focus on how members of society define religion
          • Criticism:Does not believe that religion performs similar functions for everyone in all societies
            • Social interactionist
              • Take an interpretivist approach
                • focus on how members of society define religion
                  • Criticism:Does not believe that religion performs similar functions for everyone in all societies
                    • This makes it impossible to make generalisations about religion as it means different things to different people.
                • Universal definitions of religion are impossible to produce as religion means different things to different people
            • This makes it impossible to make generalisations about religion as it means different things to different people.
        • Universal definitions of religion are impossible to produce as religion means different things to different people
    • Polythetic
      • Identify a number of overlapping factors that most religions share
        • For something to qualify as a religion it must share a number of these factors

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