functionalist theories: beliefs


Emile Durkheim (Functionalist):

  • Believed religious ritual was just a vehical for a society to worship itself.
  • The major function of religion was its role in the creation of the collective conscious (the idea that a group of people have shared norms and values and this allows them to effectively work together as a cohesive and harmonious group).
  • Argued that societies seperate the world into two categories: (1) the sacred (special objects) and (2) the profane (ordinary objects).
  • Through this, sacred totems were created (e.g. the crucifix for Roman Catholics) and members of society could collectively worship them.
  • Religious activity also functioned to create social solidarity (shared norms and values)(the notion that your strength comes from being part of a bigger thing).


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