Sociological Perspectives on Religion

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  • Sociological perspectives on religion
    • Functionalism
      • Durkheim (1912)  believed that religion performed a important function for society
        • Binding people together with a "social cement"
        • Religion provides a set of moral values that form the collective conscience, ensuring social stability
        • Durkheim argued that all societies are divided into sacred and profane
          • Sacred - Symbols and ceremonies that have a holy meaning
          • Profane- Everything that makes up our ordinary everyday lives
      • Parsons (1965) :  He claimed that is helps people to deal with "life crisis"
        • Which would cause ANOMIE, threatening social order.
          • For Example , love one dies, family and friends attend a religious ceremony
            • Religion gives us a comfort by answering difficult questions such as, what happens after death
      • Evaluation of Functionalist
        • Marxists point out that religion can actually be dysfunctional for society. One example is Northern Ireland, where there has been a history pf violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants
        • Western society are becoming secular with less people attending religious attendance.
        • Durkheim focused his  studies on societies where there was "one moral  community of the Church" to unite members
          • How would this work in a modern multi faith cultures
    • Marxism
      • Both Marx and Engels saw religion as a  tool of social control, used by the ruling class to keep the masses in control
        • Engels recognized that in order for the ruling class to maintain the status quo
      • Religion acts as a "social opium" a drug that lessons the pain of hardship experienced by the working class
        • Told that God will reward them in heaven
      • Althusser (1971) calls an ideological apparatus, used to legitimatized ruling class domination
        • Working class brainwashed into accepting social class inequalities as God-given and inevitable.
          • False consciousness prevents them from doing anything from improving there situation, leaving the ruling class  to exploit them
      • Evaluation of Marxism
        • The Marxist view doesn't take secularization  into account
        • The church does not always support the ruling class
        • There is no evidence ti support the idea of false consciousness That the working class is blind to it's opportunities
    • Feminism
      • All agree that women are subordinated in society, they disagree about the cause of this subordination
        • the solution is the non-gendered socialization of children and the introduction of laws ensuring sexual equality's
      • Glass ceiling, even in the Church   there is only a particular place women can rise too
        • Daly (1971) religion is infused with patriarchal ideology
        • Women having to cover up in Catholic Churches while Men don't
      • Radical Feminists assert that it is men who are responsible for women oppression
        • Daly (1971) religion is infused with patriarchal ideology
      • Marxist Feminists: they point out that it is mainly capitalism that benefits from the free domestic labor provided by women
      • Evaluation of Feminism
        • he situated of women in some religious organisations has improved
        • Western feminists give ethnocentric analyses of the religious practices in cultures


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