Functionalist theories of religon

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 31-05-16 14:38
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  • Functionalist theories of religion
    • Durkheim           Did a study of the Arunta tribe in Australia. He found that religion has social functions for its members.
      • Sacred & Profane
        • Durkheim found tribes treated most things as ordinary (profane) and some things were set apart as forbidden and inspire awe (sacred). Durkheim argued that these things represent something of great power and in his view this can only be society. Thus, worshiping these things is worshiping society, even if the tribes aren't aware of it.
          • Collective concsience
            • Taking part in rituals reaffirms our commitment to shared ideas, goals and aims, and allows us to work as a group, in which society couldn't survive without. Attending rituals allows us to bond with others/ strengthen social solidarity.
    • Malinowski: Religion performs a social function by providing psychological support during times of emotional stress that might otherwise threaten social life. (e.g. life crisis's such as births/deaths - also helps with uncertain/uncontrollable events.
    • Parsons:            Religion sacralises norms/values/meanings. Individuals accept societies goals as their own.                  Religion is the primary source of meaning for people in society. It provides answers to unanswered Q's.
    • Bellah:                Some religions are civil and national religions unite a nation of people under collective norms/values. The USA- 'God bless America' is the best example of this.


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