Durkheim on religion

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  • Durkheim on religion
    • The sacred and profane
      • The key feature of religion is the distinction between the sacred and profane.
        • Sacred: Things set apart and forbidden that inspire feelings of awe, fear and wonder and are surrounded by taboos and prohibitions.
          • Religion is never just a set of beliefs but sacred, collective rituals (rituals performed by social groups).
          • Sacred things evoke such powerful feelings in believers because they are symbols representing things of great power.
            • This thing can only be society itself, since society is the only thing powerful enough to command such feelings.
          • When people are worshipping sacred symbols, they are worshipping society.
          • Although sacred symbols vary from religion to religion, they all perform the essential function of uniting believers into a single moral community.
        • Profane: things that have no special significance and are ordinary and mundane.


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