Beliefs in Society - Sociologists for Topics

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  • Created by: Hollie
  • Created on: 03-05-14 15:42

A brief summary of the sociologists for each topic for beliefs in society.


  • Durkheim: Aboriginal clans - totems. Society is divided into two groups: sacred and profane. Sacred objects are only made 'special' because they're symbolic to certain groups (totems). By worshipping their totem, they're worshipping their society. This demonstrates how religion is rarely individual and group soildarity is affirmed. 
  • Parsons: religion and the value consensus. Religion provides guideline for human actions. Laws originate from the Ten Commandments and therefore religion provides the basis for many norms in society.
  • Malinowksi: Trobriand Islanders. Religious rituals are used in time of life crisis (birth, puberty, marriage and death) to deal with the tension and emotion than comes with these times so that people can move on and continue to contribute positively to society.
  • Bellah: civil religion


  • Marx: religion as the 'opium of the masses'. Religion dulls the pain of oppression for the working class.
  • Engels: religion as a radical force


  • Maduro: the relative autonomy of religion. Religion can be a revolutionary force that brings about social change.
  • Gramsci: beliefs are no more or no less important than economic forces. Religious beliefs could develop which would support and guide popular changes to the ruling class.


  • Grace Davie: belief without belonging - people don't have to belong to a church or attend church to believe in God. Vicarious religion - members of clergy praying and attending church on behalf of wider society. 
  • Danielle Hervieu-Leger: spiritual shopping - people have the ability to pick and choose a religion which suits their particular beliefs at any given time ('pick 'n' mix').
  • Bibby: found that approximately 25% of Canadians regularly attended church but 80% claimed to believe.


For secularisation: 

  • Parsons: religious disengagement from society - a process of specialisation (church isn't running education etc anymore).
  • Steve Bruce: privatisation - the church has less opportunity to involve itself in non-religous spheres
  • Weber: disenchantment - loss of magic in the world due to science replacing religion in answering many questions about the world. However, some believe that many have become disenchanted with science and are turning back to religion for answers again (NRMs)



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