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THEORIES OF RELIGION
DEFINITIONS-substantive (Weber) a belief in a supernatural
power, to be a religion there must be the belief in God. Functional
definition (Durkheim)- the terms of function it provides for individuals
and integration or answers `ultimate questions'. Social constructionist
definitions- how members of society define their religion eg. Aldridge-
Scientology has been denied religious rites yet members say its their
Functionalism- Durkheim- sacred symbols like worshiping
society itself, Australian aboriginal tribe worship their totem pole has
the same function, sacred symbols represent collective conscience which
religion reinforces, Mauss and Durk.- cognitive functions- creates shared
categories like time, space etc. HOWEVER- hard to apply scared and
profane where there's 2 religions in a society, doesn't explain conflict,
postmodernists- diversity=fragmented society so no collective
Malinowski- psychological functions- Trobriand Islanders- when the
outcome is important but uncontrollable eg. Rituals like canoe magic. At
times of life crises eg. Birth, death, puberty, marriage- religion helps
minimise disruption. Parsons- reinforces norms an values by making them
sacred, Is a source of meaning by answering `ultimate questions' so
people adapt. Bellah- Civil Religion- American way of life with symbols
like the flag, national anthem and binds Americans together. Functional
alternatives- Nazi Germany had non religious beliefs to unite society.
However are these religions as don't have supernatural? It also ignores
religious conflict in Northern Ireland.
Marxism-Marx- religion as an ideology- ruling class use it to
legitimise WC suffering and tell them they'll be rewarded in afterlife.
Creates a false consciousness. Lenin- spiritual gin and mystical fog.
Alienation- Marx- under capitalism workers are alienated as they don't
own what they make and have no control to express their creativity.
Religion acts as a consolation as the `opium of the people'. However
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Marx ignores positive functions of religion, Althusser- alienation is
unscientific, Abercrombie and Turner- religion doesn't function
effectively as an ideology as pre capitalist society it only had a limited
effect on peasantry.
Feminism- religious organisations are male dominated eg.
Orthodox Catholicism women cant be priests (Armstrong), places of
worship segregate females and participation may be restricted in on
period, pregnant etc. sacred texts contain male gods and reflect
antifemale stereotypes eg. Eve in the Garden of Eden. Religious laws
give women fewer rights eg.…read more