functionalism

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  • functionalism
    • Malinowski
      • religion = psychological function
      • religion relieves stress from life events
      • funerals help them understand the situation
      • Troibriand Islands
        • fishing in calm safe lagoon = religion not important
        • fishing in danger with no success = proceeded by rituals
          • increases sense of control, reduces anxiety and unifies group
    • Durkheim
      • religion = unified system of beliefs & practices relative to sacred things
      • sacred V. profane
      • totem = sacred
        • symbolises the group - worship it to worship themselves
          • acts as a moral glue creating bonds giving shared identity, commitment and belonging
            • also known as a collective conscience
      • minority ethnic
        • religious beliefs and customs = cultural idientity
        • traditions = cultural defence
    • Parsons
      • religion = source of meaning &legitimises core values of a culture
      • answers 'eternal questions' e.g. why do people suffer?
      • coping mechanism
    • Civil Religion
      • G.parsons
        • civil religion in Uk only occasional
      • bellah
        • Americans unified by a civil religion
          • faith in Americanism
            • God and Americanism walk hand in hand
          • pledge of allegiance is an example
      • Beckford
        • 'if we have a civil religion, its at best occasional - and at worst weak'
    • criticisms
      • causes social change - MLK civil rights movement
      • religion can be disruptive and dicisive - terrorism - Islamic fundamentalists
      • religious pluralism - cant unify everyone as they all have different views
      • people not religious anymore
      • Durkheim's study = too small
      • where did religion originate?

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