Functionalist Theory - Religion

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Functionalist Theory

  • DURKHEIM 'a unified system of belifs and practies related to scared things, that it to say things set apart and forbidden'
  • 1. Society is made up of the Scared and Profane.
  • Scared: Symbolic and Representative
  • Profane: Everyday reality - mundane
  • The siginfgance of the objects : they must symbolise something. (Totems)
  • 2. Aboriginal Society - put themselves into clans
  • Each clan has a Totem which they worship
  • The Totem represents society and God - therefore Durkheim found that these clans worshping the totems- which reprsent society and God- the society has become the key object in religious worship
  • Why use a totem? - easy to direct respecct towards a symbol which worships the clan, rather than respecting the clan itself.
  • 3. Collective Conscience- shared vaules and belifs are nessacary for society to function properly and these shared vaules and beliefs make up the collective conscience helping to hold society together.

BRUCE 1995

  • Two ways of defining religion:
  • Functional definition- Focus on the functions that reilgion provides to society and to


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