Functionalist theories of religion

HideShow resource information
According to functionalists, what are society's 2 most basic needs for?
1. Solidarity 2. Social order.
1 of 77
Social order and solidarity are key due to the need for the members of society to...
...cooperate.
2 of 77
What do functionalists make social order possible?
Value consensus.
3 of 77
Define value consensus:
A shared set of norms/values/ beliefs by which society's members live by.
4 of 77
What would happen without value consensus?
Individuals would pursue their own selfish desires and society would disintegrate.
5 of 77
For functionalists, religions plays a great part in creating....
...and maintaining value consensus/ order/ solidarity.
6 of 77
Who was the first functionalist to develop this idea?
Durkheim.
7 of 77
What does the sacred refer to?
Things that are set apart and forbidden which inspire feelings of awe/ fear/ wonder. They are surounded by taboos and prohibitions.
8 of 77
What does the profane refer to?
Things that have no special significance and are ordinary/ mundaine.
9 of 77
Futhermore, a religion is never simply just a set of beliefs but..
..involves defined rituals/ practices in relation to the sacred.
10 of 77
How are these rituals performed?
Collectively (by social groups).
11 of 77
What does the fact that sacred things evoke powerful feelings in believers indicate to Durkheim?
Sacred things are symbols representing something of great power.
12 of 77
According to D, why can this thing only be society itself?
Society is the only thing powerful enough to command these feelings.
13 of 77
Therefore, when religious believers are worshipping sacred things, they are in fact...
...worshipping society itself.
14 of 77
Although sacred symbols vary from religion to religion, they all perform the essential function of...
...uniting believers into one single moral community.
15 of 77
Where did Durkheim believe that the essence of all religion be found?
Studying it in its simplest form.
16 of 77
What is the simplest type of society?
Clan society.
17 of 77
For this reason, he used studies of the...
...Arunta (An Australian Aboriginal tribe with a clan system.)
18 of 77
What does the Arunta tribe consist of?
Bands of kin.
19 of 77
What do these bands of kin come together periodically to worship?
A sacred totem.
20 of 77
What do we mean when we say that the totem is a clan's emblem?
It symbolises that clan's origin and identity.
21 of 77
Name 2 formsthat a totem can take:
An animal/Plant.
22 of 77
What purpose do totemic rituals serve?
They reinforce the group's solidarity and sense of belonging.
23 of 77
For D, when clan members worship their totemic animal, they are in reality worshipping...
...society (even though they themselves are not aware of it)
24 of 77
Therefore, why does the totem inspire feelings of awe in the clan's members?
The totem represents the power of the group on which the individual is 'utterly dependent.'
25 of 77
In D's view, the sacred symbols represent society's...
...collective conscience.
26 of 77
What is the collective conscience?
The shared set of norms/ values/ beliefs/ knowledge that makes social life and cooperation between individuals possible.
27 of 77
For D, regular shared religious rituals reinforce...
...the collective conscience and maintain social integration.
28 of 77
Participating in shared religious rituals binds individuals together by...
...reminding them that they are all part of a single religious community to which they owe their loyalty.
29 of 77
Without which themselves are nothing, and...
...to which they owe everything.
30 of 77
In this sense, religion also performs an important function for...
...the individual.
31 of 77
By religious making us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, religion strenghts us to ...
...face life's trials and overcome obstacles that would otherwise defeat us.
32 of 77
D sees religion not only as the source of social solidarity, but also of...
...our intellectual and cognitive capacities.
33 of 77
What does he mean when he says 'intellectual and cognitive capacities?'
Our ability to reason and think conceptually.
34 of 77
Firstly, in order to think at all, we need...
..categories (Such as time/ space/ cause/ substance/number ect.)
35 of 77
Secondly, in order to share our thoughts, we need to...
...share the same categories as others.
36 of 77
In D and Mauss's book ''Primitive Classification,' they argue that religion provides...
...basic categories such as time/space/causation
37 of 77
For example: with ideas about a creater bringing the world into being at the beggining of time...
...we learn about the concept of time.
38 of 77
Similarly, the division of tribes into clans based on totemic rituals provided...
...humans their first notion of classification.
39 of 77
Therefore, For D, religion is the origin of...
...human thought, reason and science.
40 of 77
Who agrees with Durkheim that religion promitotes solidarity but argues that it does so by performing psychological functions for individuals?
Malinkoski.
41 of 77
According to M, what psychological functions does religion perform?
Religion helps individuals cope with emotional stress that would otherwise undermine social solidarity.
42 of 77
What 2 types of situation does Malinowski suggest religion performs this role?
1. When the outcome is important but uncontrollable 2. At times of life crises.
43 of 77
To illustrate this, in M's study of the Trobiand islanders of the Western Pacific, he contrasts...
...fishing in the lagoon and fishing in the ocean.
44 of 77
As lagoon fishing is controlable (using the successful method of poisoning and is safe)...
...there are no religious rituals surrounding it.
45 of 77
However, as Ocean fishing is dangerous and uncertain...
...it is surrounded by 'canoe magic,' (rituals to ensure a safe and successful expedition.)
46 of 77
How do these rituals help individuals?
They give them a sense of confidence when they have to do dangerous things and help reinforce social solidarity.
47 of 77
What does M mean when he says that he sees ritual serving as a 'God of the gaps?'
It fills the gaps in human beings' control over the world (such as being unable to control to outcome of a fishing trip.
48 of 77
Name some events which cause disruptive changes in social groups?
Birth/ puberty/ death/ marriage.
49 of 77
M argues that religion helps to..
...minimise disruption.
50 of 77
Name an example of how religion helps minimise the disruption brought by death:
Funeral rituals reinforce a feeling of solidarity among survivors whilst the notion of immortality gives comfort to the bereaved by denying the fact of death.
51 of 77
As a result of this, what does Malinowski argue is the main cause for the existence of religious belief?
Death.
52 of 77
Who, like Malinowski, sees religion as helping to cope with unforseen events and uncontrollable outcomes?
Parsons.
53 of 77
What other 2 functions does Parsons argue religion performs for modern society?
1. It creates and legitimates society's central values. 2.It is the primary source of meaning.
54 of 77
How does religion create and legitimate society's basic norms and values?
By making them sacred.
55 of 77
For example, in USA, what 3 core, American values does Protestantism also share?
1. Individualism 2. Meritocracy 3. Self-discipline.
56 of 77
This serves to promote value consensus and therefore...
...social stability.
57 of 77
How, according to P, does religion also provide a sense of meaning?
It answers the ultimate questions about the human condition.
58 of 77
Name an example of these ultimate questions:
1. Why do good people suffer? 2. Why do some people die young?
59 of 77
Without religion, how could these events potentially undermine our commitment to society's values?
They defy our sense of justice which therefore make life appear meaningless.
60 of 77
Name an example of religion providing answers to ultimate questions:
Explaining suffering in terms of a test that will be greatly rewarded in heaven.
61 of 77
Therefore, religion helps individuals to adjust to...
...testing events and circumstances which helps maintain social stability.
62 of 77
Who, like Parsons, is also interested in how religion unifies society (especially a multi-faith society such as America)?
Bellah.
63 of 77
What does he belief unifies American multi-faith society?
An overrarching civil religion.
64 of 77
What is a 'civil religion?'
A belief system that attatches sacred qualities to society itself.
65 of 77
Bellah argues that civil religion integrates society in a way that...
...individual religions cannot.
66 of 77
Why?
No indivudal churches/denominations/ faiths can claim loyalty to all of American wherea civil religion can.
67 of 77
What does American civil religion involve?
Loyalty to the nation state/belief in God.
68 of 77
Both of which are equated with...
...being a true American.
69 of 77
American civil religion is expressed in...
...various rituals/symbols/beliefs.
70 of 77
For example:
Pledge of allegiance to the flag /singing the national anthem/ phrases such as 'One nation under God.'
71 of 77
This sacralises the American way of life and binds...
..together Americans from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
72 of 77
What are functional alternatives/equivalents to religion?
Non-religious beliefs ad practices that perform similar functions to that of organised religions.
73 of 77
For example: both Bellah's civil religion and totemism...
...reinforce shared values and maintain social cohesion.
74 of 77
Although civil religion in America involves a belief in God...
...Bellah argues that this dosn't have to be the case.
75 of 77
This means that some other belief could perform the same function. For example:
Both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had secular (non-religious)political beliefs and rituals around which they sought to unite society.
76 of 77
Name a problem with saying that functional equivalents to religion are religious beliefs.
This ignores what makes religion itself distinct and different (i.e. its belief in God and the supernatural.)
77 of 77

Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Social order and solidarity are key due to the need for the members of society to...

Back

...cooperate.

Card 3

Front

What do functionalists make social order possible?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Define value consensus:

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What would happen without value consensus?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
View more cards

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Religion and beliefs resources »