1. Theories of religion

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • Theories of religion
    • What is religion?
      • Substantive definitions
        • Focus on the content of the belief
        • WEBER: defines religion as belief in a supernatural power that is above nature
        • Exclusive
        • EVAL: accused of Western bias because they exclude religions like Buddhism
      • Functional definitions
        • Focus on the functions of the belief system
        • DURKHEIM: defines religion in terms of its contribution to social integration
        • Inclusive
        • EVAL: Just because it provides integration, doesn't make it a religion
      • Social Constructionist definitions
        • Take an Interpretivist approach
        • It is not possible to produce one universal definition
        • Focus on how definitions of religion are constructed, challenged and fought over
        • EVAL: this makes it impossible to generalise about the nature of religion
    • Functionalist theories of religion
      • Religion mustplay vital functions for society in order to maintain social order and solidarity
      • DURKEIM
        • The key feature in religion is a distinction between the sacred and the profane
        • Argues that worship is just society worshipping itself through Totemism
        • The collective conscience
          • Shared rituals reinforces the collective conscience and maintain social integration for society as a group
          • Makes the individual feel part of something greater than themselves
        • Cognitive functions of religion
          • Gives individuals the ability to reason and think conceptually
          • Allows society to communicate by creating concepts and categorising them
        • EVAL: WORSLEY: there is no sharp division between the sacred and the profane
        • EVAL: hard to apply his theories to large-scale societies
        • EVAL: MESTROVIC there is no longer a collective conscience because society has become too fragmented and diverse
      • MALINOWSKI
        • Psychological functions
          • Religion promotes solidarity by helping individuals cope with emotional stress
          • This emotional stress may stem from situations where the outcome is important but uncontrollable and thus uncertain
          • The emotional stress may also take place at times of life  crisis like death, birth, marriage...
          • Stufdy of The Trobriand Islanders
      • PARSONS
        • Values and meaning
          • Religion helps the individual cope with unforeseen events like an aeroplane crash
          • Helps us answer 'ultimate questions'
          • Religion creates and legitimates central values
      • BELLAH
        • Civil Religion
          • A belief system which attaches sacred qualities to the American way of life
          • Civil religion integrates society in a way other religions cannot because it is based on patriotism and a belief in an 'American God'
          • EVAL: some Americans may not be patriotic
    • Marxist theories of religion
      • Religion is only a feature of a class-divided society based on inequality and exploitation
      • Religion as ideology
        • MARX: religion transmits ruling class ideology that legitimates the exploitation of the proletariat by illuding  that they're inequality is just and God-given
        • Religion creates a false consciousness that prevents the poor from rising up
        • LENIN: religion acts as a 'spiritual gin' that confuses the w/c and keeps them in their place
      • Religion and alienation
        • MARX: religion is the product of alienation which separates the w/c from what they prduce
        • MARX: religion is the 'opium of the people' which dulls the pain of exploitation by promising rewards of the Afterlife  and legitimating the suffering of the poor
      • EVAL: Marx ignores the positive functions of religion
      • EVAL: ALTHUSSER: rejects alienation as unscientific and based on a romantic idea that humans have a'true self'
    • Feminist theories of religion
      • Evidence of patriarchy
        • Religious organisations (mainly male-dominated, more male priests)
        • Places of worship (often segregates the sexes and marginalises women by seating them separely)
        • Sacred texts (Eve caused humanity's fall from grace, male gods, written and interpreted by men)
        • Religious laws and customs (women may have fewer rights than men in divorce, bigomy)
      • However,feminists argue that women have not always been subordinate to women
      • ARMSTRONG
        • Early religions often placed women at the centre of the belief system for example by presenting them as earth mother goddesses
  • EVAL: religion can sometimes liberate females

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Religion and beliefs resources »