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Functionalism & Religion
See society as a system of interrelated parts or social
institutions, such as religion, the family and parts of the
economy.
Society's most basic need is the need for social order and
solidarity so that its members can cooperate
· How do you get social order?
Consensus about society's shared norms & values…read more

Slide 2

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Society is like an organism, (organic analogy) with
basic needs that it must meet in order to survive.
· These needs are met by the different institutions.
· Each institution performs certain functions and meets
the systems need.
Cooperation
Social Order
Social solidarity…read more

Slide 3

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Functionalism = `consensus theory'
No consensus = no shared norms & values!
What would happen?!
· People pulling in different directions
· Conflict
· Disorder…read more

Slide 4

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Durkheim (1912)
The collective conscience
· Sacred symbols represents a collective
consciousness.
· Regular shared religious rituals reinforce the shared
values and maintain social integration.
· Participating in shared rituals binds individuals
together.
· In this sense religion also performs an important
function for the individual, by making us feel part of
something greater than ourselves.
· It strengthens and motivates us.…read more

Slide 5

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Durkheim (1912)
Totemism
· Essence of all religion could be found by studying it in its simplest form.
· Studies of an aboriginal tribe of whom performed rituals towards a totem.
· For Durkheim this worship is in reality for society, although they are
unconscious of this.
· It inspires feelings of awe because it represents the power of the
individual.
All societies
Symbols &
ceremonies =
holy meaning Everything in our
Sacred Profane ordinary
Evoke strong everyday lives
emotions of
awe & respect…read more

Slide 6

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Totemism
· Totem = plant, bird, animal seen to have holy qualities
· It is a symbol of the clan
AND
· It is a symbol of the divine spirit that watched over them
Tribe worshipping the spirit
= Tribe worshipping the clan & their society…read more

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