Religion Sociologists etc.

  • Created by: Lottie
  • Created on: 14-06-11 23:47

Functionalist Theories On Religion.

DURKHEIM argued that there was a difference between the sacred and the profane. The sacred being the interests of the group, especially unity, which were embodied in sacred group symbols, or totems. And the profane being involved mundane individual concern.

He also said that Totemism is religion in its simplest form based on the aborigines; by worshiping the totem they worshiped society.

He said that the collective conscious shared the norms and values that make cooperation in society possible.

He also said that religion had cognitive functions; religion helps us reason and think conceptually. He then said that we need religion to provide us with basic concepts such as time.

MALINOWSKI argued that religion had psychological functions. They were that religion offers support where the outcome is uncertain and uncontrollable, the second being that religion supports people during times of crisis for example war and death.

PARSONS argued that religion created and legitimised society’s central values and is the primary source of meaning.

BELLAH argued about civil religion where religion unifies in a multi faith society e.g. the American way of life (Americans being patriotic.)


Marxist Theories On Religion.

MARX argued that religion alienated people. Alienation exists under more extreme capitalism. He also said that religion is the opium of the people. Meaning that religion is addictive to them and that religion acts to dull the pain of exploitation.

He also argued that ideology is a belief system and that religion operates an ideological weapon by the ruling class to legitimise the suffering of the poor.

He also argued about false consciousness which is a distorted view on reality that prevents the poor from acting to change their situation.

GRAMSCI argued about religion and hegemony he argued that hegemony is the way that ruling class keeps control as their ideologies are accepted without question and the idea of ideological domination.

BILLINGS and his study of coal miners and textiles workers found that they were both working class and those miners were less accepting of hegemony and the textiles workers accept hegemony because their company ran the church.  He argued that religion could be used to either accept or reject society’s position.


Feminist Theories On Religion.

HOLM found that women aren’t allowed to enter places of worship during pregnancy or menstruation. This is her explanation of women’s marginalisation.

ARMSTRONG found that women’s exclusion from priesthood is an indication of their marginalisation. However it is getting better in 1993 the CofE church allowed women to become priests.

WOODHEAD found that there is religious feminism. There are ways in which women can use religion to their advantage and to promote freedom for example women choose to wear the veil as an act against westernisation.

BUTLER agreed with WOODHEAD and said that not all religion always oppresses women for example when women wear the veil in Muslim religion it is because they want to hide their femininity and see it as a defender of equality.




thank you :)



Really useful, thank you