Beliefs in society

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  • Created by: Joyce
  • Created on: 10-01-13 09:50



Durkheim -

·         Religion provides collectiveness conscience which  is the shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledgeà Individuals need to make co-operation possible- without it  which society would disintegrate.

·         Religion is the origin of human thought, reason and science. 

·         Study of Arunta- totem  serves to reinforce the group’s solidarity and sense of belonging. 


·         Durkheims theory may apply better to small scale societies.

·         Postmodernists say it cannot apply to contemporary society


·         He focuses on the role of religion in dealing with situations of emotional stress that threatens social solidarity.

·         He identifies two sorts of events that may create this kind of stress: Life crises and Actions that cannot be controlled/predicted.


·         Malinowski has been criticized for exaggerating the importance of religious ritual in helping people to cope with situations of stress and uncertainty.

·         Malinowski uses data from small scale, non-literate societies to support his ideas.



·         Religious beliefs provide guidelines for human action

·         Parsons sees religion as dealing with problems that disrupt social life-problems such as foreseen, unpredictable events and situations of uncertainty.

·         Religion provides a range of answers to questions about suffering, evil and so on.


·         It emphasises the positive contributions of religion to society and ignores its dysfunctional aspect

·         Neglects instances where religion can be seen as a divisive and disruptive force.

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·         In many religions men dominate the powerful positions of the public spheres, while women do most of the behind the scenes work (in Hinduism only men can become Brahmanic priests) .

·         Women’s second class status is often related to female biology and sexuality. For example, Islamic women cannot touch the Qu’ran when menstruating and Hindu women can’t approach family shrines when pregnant.

El Saadawi

·         Accepts that women are exploited through religion; for example, Islamic men in some countries use religion to justify barbaric practices such as ‘female circumcision’

·         Believes it is not religion itself which is to blame.

·         The real problem is the manipulation and misinterpretation of religious teaching by men for their own benefit.


De Beauvoir

·         Religion is an instrument of male domination. Men usually control religious organisations and claim that their authority comes from God; (kings used to rule by ‘divine right’).

·         Religion gives women a false belief that their suffering will be rewarded in heaven. It deceives women into thinking they are equal to men whilst in reality they are disadvantaged as the ‘second sex’.

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