Functionalism on Beliefs

  • Created by: r_ahmad
  • Created on: 08-04-19 23:44


Religion distinguishes between the sacred and the profane: this creates value consensus.

Worshipping something sacred is like worshipping society.

Study of the aboriginal tribe in Australia found people worshipping Totems; this act brought the society together.

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Studied Trobriand Islanders

found beliefs played 2 psychological roles;

  • a coping mechanism (e.g rituals for hatching/matching and dispatching) 
  •  During times of uncertainty (e.g when going dangerous ocean fishing).
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Agreed with Malinowski, but added some more things.

Religion gives individuals a sense of meaning and answers the big questions in life.

Also, religion is a mechanism of adjustment (e.g praying for a job during unemployment)

this maintains social order.

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Talks about 'civil religion'

In diverse societies (such as America), value consensus and social solidarity are maintained through civil religion. For example, pledging allegiance to America.

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