Belief in Society

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  • Created by: misscuya
  • Created on: 17-04-13 23:20

Theories of Religion

FUNCTIONALIST- takes a positive approach towards religion and sees it as providing social solidarity through social orders. For example: the 10 commandments acts as a value consensus.

Durkheim-talked about the sacred and profane, totenism (performing rituals and eventually he believes that individuals is infact worshipping society), cognitive power (the power to give reasons) and collective conscience. 

Parsons- value and meaning

  • Religion provides answers to our questions ie. the 9/11 terrorist attack helped us to accept and move on.
  • He claims that religion helps individuals to cope with hard situations


  • Whilst others see religion as a way to unite society, others disagree and claim that religion has also caused conflicts such as war between nations.
  • Durkhiem's theory about totenism cannot be generalized to wider society.
  • A multicultural society results to a diversity of religions and belief system. 
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Theories of Religion

Malinowski-Religion deals with situations of emotional stress that threatens social order. ie. When Princess Diana died, religion was a resort of comfort for those who were disheartened by this tragedy. 

MARXISM-Religion is seen as the dominant ideology and is a source of conflict or an appratus to use to exploit the poor and oppressed. Religion acts as a cushion to the pain and suffering of the poor and also it is seen to give false consciousness as individuals rely on religion for answers rather than seeing the problem as the work of capitalism. 

Bellah-Civil Religion- Americanism provides unity of nation. "One nation with God."


  • Emphasize on positive functions- Biased!
  • Civil religion performs the same role as religion.
  • 3 definitions: substantive, functional and social constructionist. 
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Theories of Religion


Otto Maduro- He talks about the Liberation Theology (the teachings in Christ and Marx) in Latin America the priests criticised the bourgeoise and wanting social change.


  • Oscar Romero- social change
  • Pope Francis I- Latin America- declares that he want to see a poor church that is made for the poort and so, we see a strong relation with the liberation theology. 

FEMINISM- takes a negative approach towards religion and claims that its about gender inequality. (Women are dominated by men especially today)

Over the years, womens importance in religion has been ignored.

i.e. Religious texts transmits stories which upholds a patriarchal society. The story of Adam and Eve and how the woman brought the downfall of humanity, this influenced the way others view women and religion. 

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Theories of Religion

Woodhead- women use religion to gain status and respect i.e. Muslim faith (veils) are worn and men need to respect women. 

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