Definitions of religion

  • Created by: azarif
  • Created on: 04-05-18 11:28
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  • Theories of Religion
    • Functional
      • Inclusive- includes a wide range of beliefs that perform functions such as integration
      • Criticism: an institution that integrates individuals doesn't make it a religion e.g. collective chanting at football matches integrates people, but it doesn't make it a religion
      • 2 functions
        • Psychological functions
          • Yinger: religion performs functions for individuals e.g. answers ultimate questions about the meaning of life & what happens when we die
        • Social functions
          • Durkheim: religion functions for wider society i.e. social integration
    • Substantive
      • Belief in God/supernatural
      • Exclusive- clear differentiation between religious & non-religious beliefs i.e. a religion must have a belief in God/supernatural
      • Criticism: Western bias because it excludes religions i.e. Buddhism which doesn't have the Western idea of God
      • Criticism: excludes religions that perform similar functions to religion but doesn't have a belief in God
    • Constructionist
      • Interpretivist approach- focuses on what meanings people give to religion
      • Criticism: acknowledging different views about the nature of religion makes it impossible to define religion
      • Doesn't assume that religion always has a belief in God or performs similar functions for  everyone in all societies.


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