Perspectives of Religion

A breakdown of functionalism, marxism, feminism, intepretivism and post modernism and the theorists that apply to this perspective.



Functionalists see religion as functionally necessary. In particular, they emphasise the contribution of religion to the needs of society and the indiviual. Its role in maintaining social solidarity is very important.

Main theorists:

  • Durkheim
  • Parsons
  • Malinowski
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'Religion is the opium of the masses' - Karl Marx

With Marxism, there is a clear link to class conflict. Religion is an illusion which eases the pain of exploitation in capitalist society. In a communist utopia, religion ceases to exist because there is no need for it.

Main theorists:

  • Marx
  • Engels
  • Maduro
  • Turner
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Feminists see religion as causing pain and oppression. They beleive this stems from patriarchy and religion serves the interests of males only.

Main theorists:

  • Holm
  • De Beauvoir
  • El Saadawi
  • Watson
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Tends to see religion as meeting the needs of the individuals.As such, religion is very important in helping to answer big questions in life.

Main theorists:

  • Stark and Bainbridge
  • Greely
  • Weber
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Post Modernism

Post Modernists too, focus on the individual and how they make sense of their lifes. People no longer accept universal truths and as such adopt a 'pick and mix' mentality to religion - often taking bits from different beliefs to make their own sense of things.

Main theorists:

  • Bauman
  • Heelas
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