Is religion a conservative force?

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  • Durkheim (1912):
  • Religion is important function for society.
  • Religion binds people together. (Social Cement)
  • First person to study totemism.
  • Profane: Everything in our ordinary lives.
  • Sacred: Evoke strong emotions of awe and respect.
  • " Primitive man comes to view society as something sacred because he is utterly dependent on it".(God=society)
  • Religion provides a set of moral values which ensures social stability.
  • Regular collective worship+ Shared ritual= Crucial for society survival.
  • Reinforces social solidarity
  • People are repeatedly re-affirming their support for the shared values and beliefs.
  • When these values are made 'Sacred', we are more likely to abide them.
  • Religion= Secondary Socialisation.
  • Shared ritualised experiences= awareness the as individuals, they are insignificant and dependent but together we are strong.
  • Parsons: Religion plays a more important role in society than ever before. He argued that while religious institutions no-longer have a direct influence over education and politics, their indirect is still relatively strong and we still respect the sacred values and religion is now used as a form of spiritual and moral support and guidance.
  • Criticisms:
  • Durkheim only studies the Native Americans and Aboriginals (Small-Scale society). He seems to forget about the study of mass religions…


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