Functionalist theories of religion

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How do functionalists society?
For functionalists, society is a system of interrelated parts or social institutions, such as religion, the family and the economy. Society is like an organism, with basic needs that it must meet in order to survive. Each institution has a role.
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For functionalists, religious institutions play a central part in creating and maintaining value consensus, order and solidarity. Who was the first functionalist to develop this idea?
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
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Durkheim - The sacred and the profane. What is this?
Believed key feature of religion was not a belief in gods or spirits, but a fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane found in all religions.
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Durkheim - Totemism. What is this?
Durkheim believed that the essence of all religion could be found by studying its simplest for, in the simplest type of society - clan society.
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Durkheim - The collective conscience. What is this?
Durkheim believed that the sacred symbols represent society's 'collective conscience' or 'consciousness'. The collected conscience is the shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that make life between individuals possible.
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Durkheim - Cognitive functions of religion. What is this?
Durkeheim sees religion not only as the source of social solidarity, but also of our intelectual or cognitive capacities - our ability to reason and think conceptually. This view says religion is the origin of the concepts and categories we need.
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What are the critisms of Durkheim?
His theory may apply better to small-scale societies with a single religion. His theory may explain social integration WITHIN communites, but not the conflict BETWEEN them.
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Card 2

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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

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For functionalists, religious institutions play a central part in creating and maintaining value consensus, order and solidarity. Who was the first functionalist to develop this idea?

Card 3

Front

Believed key feature of religion was not a belief in gods or spirits, but a fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane found in all religions.

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Durkheim believed that the essence of all religion could be found by studying its simplest for, in the simplest type of society - clan society.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Durkheim believed that the sacred symbols represent society's 'collective conscience' or 'consciousness'. The collected conscience is the shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that make life between individuals possible.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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