Functionalist View on Religion

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  • Society is a system of inter-related parts. If one part fails then so does society
  • Society is like an organism which has basic needs that must be met in order for it to survive- religion meets some of these needs such as social order and solidarity.
  • DURKHEIM- key feature of religion is the clear line between the sacred and profane. 
  • Sacred= inspire feeling of awe, wonder and fear. They are forbidden and surrounded by taboos and prohibitions.
  • Profane= ordinary and seen most days. They don't have any taboos surrounding them etc.
  • When people worship the sacred they are actually worshipping themselves. Although various symbols denote various meanings they all unite believers into a single moral community
  • Also studied aboriginal tribes who performed rituals towards a totem. These totems were an image that represented their society e.g. blue  mountain etc. The totems inspired feelings of awe and it represents the power of the individual and therefore the power they have as a group
  • He argues that the sacred symbols represent a collective consciousness. For him,


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