Beliefs In Society

  • Created by: oxolib
  • Created on: 13-01-19 10:15

Functionalist Theories Of Religion

Society is an organism with basic needs (social order made possible by value consensus)

For Durkheim, the Sacred(religious) and profane(ordinary things) are key features of religions. Durkheim argues sacred symbols unite believers into a single moral community. Rituals are sacred practices performed by social groups. Arunta tribe study- they worship a sacred totem(animal),symbolising their indentity. This reinforces the groups solidarity,worshipping society.

For Durkheim, the sacred symbols represent societies collective conscience -the shared norms that make co operation between individuals possible. Rituals reinforce cc and maintains social integration, reminding them of the power of society thus stregnthening us for lifes problems.

 Durkheim sees religion as the source of our cognitive capacities(our ability to reason), religion provides concepts we need to understand and communicate(time+space).Origin of human thought

Malinowski argues religion promotes solidarity,helping them cope with emotional stress, two situations: the outcome is important but uncertain + at times of life crisis. Parsons functions of religion: creates societys norms + answers ultimate questions.

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Neo Functionalist Theories Of Religion

Civil Religion- Bellah argues religion unifies societies, especially America. What unifies America is an overarching civil religion- a belief system that attaches sacred qualitites to itself.

  • Civil Religion integrates society, involving being loyal to the nation-state and belief in god, both equating to being a true American(flag and national anthem)
  • Binding Americans from different ethnicities and backgrounds.
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Evaluation Of Functionalist Theories Of Religion

  • Durkheims claims may apply to small scale socities with a single religion, but is hard to apply to a large scale one, where multiple religions may cause conflict not consensus.
  • Postmodernists such as Mestrovic argue Durkheims ideas cannot be applied to contemporary society, because incresing diverity has fragmented the collective conscience, no longer a single shared value system for religion to reinforce.
  • Functionalism neglects negative aspects such as religion opresses the poor and women.
  • Ignores religion as a source of division, in modern socities there is more than one religion so its hard to see how it can unite people.
  • Civil Religion overcomes this issue by arguing socities have an overarching belief system.
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Marxist Theories Of Religion

Marxists see all socities as divided into two classes: one of which exploits the labour of the other. The capitalist class who own the means of production exploit the working class. This creates class conflict, marx predicted that the working class would become aware of their exploitation and overthrow capitalism, leading to a classless society.

Religion as ideologyFor Marxists, Ideology is a belief system that distorts perceptions in the interest of the ruling class. In Marxs view, religion is an ideological weapon used by the r/c to legitimise suffering of the poor, misleading them that they will be rewarded in the after life, such ideas create false consciousness.Lenin describes religion as 'spiritual gin', that confuses the w/c and keeps them in their place. The r/c use religion to manipulate the masses

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