There are three main definitions of what religion is:
Substantative - Defines religion in terms of what it actually is.
Functionalist - Defines religion in terms of its uses and purposes for society and the individual.
Polythetic - Creates a list of possible characteristics that a religion might have.
The main sociologists associated with these defintions are:
The substantative definition - Durkheim (1915)
The functionalist defintion - Yinger (1970)
The polythetic defintion - Southwold (1978)
This is what they said:
Durkheim (1915) - A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to a sacred being.
Yinger (1970) - Religion is…