Religion - Functionalism

Functionalist view of religion

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Religion creates:

- Social stability

- Identity

- Collective conscience

- Unity within social groups

- Common values

- Moral bonds

- Acts as a social cement

- Religion is an expression of society itself (Durkhiem)

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Theorists

Malinowski:

- Religion is a response to life crises (marriage, birth, death)

- Supports in times of crisis

- Rituals help to cope with crises and integrate groups (christening, wedding, funeral)

Parsons:

- Religion answers 'existential questions' (why am I here?)

- Offers a sacred support (support from a higher, spiritual being)

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Theorists Cont.

Merton:

- Religion helps to deal with disasters (9/11)

Two functions:

- Manifest function - Surface functions of religion (support, comfort etc.)

- Latent function - Covert functions of religion (bring people together, social side)

Bellah:

- Civil religion creates unity in a multifaith, pluralistic society

- Political leaders use to achieve support from potential voters (American leaders for/against abortion - appealing to wide groups)

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