- Focus on the content/substance of religious belief
- Belief in God/ supernatural
- religion= 'belief in superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically'
- Substantive definitions are exclusive; distinguish between religious and non-religious beliefs
- To be a religion, beliefs must include a belief in God or supernatural
- Conform to a widespread view of religionas belief in God
- this leaves no room for belief and practices and that perform similar functions to religion, but don't believe in God
- Western bias- exclude religions that don't have western concept of 'God' (e.g. Buddhism)
1 of 3
- Defines religion in terms of the social/psychological functions it performs for society
- defines religion in terms of the contribution it makes to social integration, rather than any specific belief in God/ supernatural
- identifies functions religion performs for individuals
- answering 'ultimate questions' (e.g. meaning of life)
- Functional definitions are inclusive, allow to include a wide range of beliefs and practices (e.g. integration)
- There is no bias against non-Western religions (doesn't specify belief in God)
- just because a group integrates doesn't make it a religion.
2 of 3
- Interpretivist approach; focusing on how members of society define religon
- Not possible to produce a single universal definition
- Different individuals and groups have different definitions of religion
- Social constructionist are interested in how definitions of religion are constructed
- Scientiology is a religion for followers, but banned by many governments. Denied legal status.
- Definitions of religion can be contested and influence by those who have power to define.
- Social constructionists don't assume religion involves a belief in God/supernatural .Or that it performs similar functions for everyone in all societies
- Allows to get close to all meanings
- Can't generalise about nature of religion, since many people have different views about religion.
3 of 3