Fuctionalist Theories of Religion

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  • Created by: Anjalee
  • Created on: 13-12-12 15:35
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  • Functionalist  Theories of Religion
    • Durkheim on Religion
      • The Sacred and the Profane
        • The distinction between the sacred and profane. Symbols are created by society; people  worship society.
      • Totemism
        • Arunta Tribe: clan system. Totemic rituals reinforce solidarity and sense of belonging.
      • Cognitive Functions of Religion
        • Religion is the origin of concepts and categories that we need, to understand, reason and communicate.
      • The Collective Conscience
        • Sacred symbols represent the collective conscience.
      • Criticisms
        • -Shows how both society and the individual are benefited         -Only applied to Arunta Tribe    -Our society is much more complex           -Outdated         -Society has many different religions and symbols
    • Psychological Functions
      • Malinowski:        -Where the outcome is important but uncertain. Studied Trobriand Islanders.       -At times of a life crisis. Death is the main reason for the existence of religion
    • Parsons: Values and Meaning
      • Religion helps individuals cope with unforeseen events. Society's central values are legitimated and religion is the primary source of meaning.
    • Civil Religion
      • Bellah wanted to know what unified people in countries with multiple faiths. When studying the USA, civil religion sacralises the American way of life through social solidarity.
    • Evaluation
      • -Emphasises positive contributions of religion       -Ignores that even one religion can be divisive     -Ignores conflict between one religion           -Little consideration to societies with multiple faiths.
  • -Shows how both society and the individual are benefited         -Only applied to Arunta Tribe    -Our society is much more complex           -Outdated         -Society has many different religions and symbols

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