Religion in Sociology - Functionalists

What are the three main ways in which sociologists define religion?
Substantive definition, Functional definition, constructionist definitions
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Define substantive definitions
Focus on the content or substance of religious beliefs, such as beliefs in God or the supernatural
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Define functional definitions
Define it in terms of the social or psychological functions it performs for individuals or society
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Define constructionist definitions
Take an interpretivist approach that focuses on how members of society themselves define religion
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How do functionalists define society?
As a system of interelated parts or social instituations, such as religion, the family and the economy. Society is like an organism, with basic needs that it must meet in order to survive
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What sociologist developed the idea that religious institutions play a central part in creating and maintaining value consensual?
Emile Durkheim (functionalist)
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For Durkheim, what is the key feature of religion?
A fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane.
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Define sacred
The sacred are things set apart and forbidden, inspiring feelings of awe, fear and wonder - surrounding by taboo and prohibitions
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Define profane
Are things that have no special significance - things that are ordinary and mundane
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In Durkheim's view what is the simplest essence of religion?
Clan society
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Who did Durkheim study?
The Arunta, an aboriginal Australian tribe
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What did the Arunta clan consist of?
Bands of him who come together periodically to perform rituals involving worship of a sacred totem.
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What is a totem? Example?
Is a clan emblem - animal or plant that symbolises the clan's origins and identity
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Wht did the totem do to the clan society?
Reinforces the groups solidarity and sense of belonging
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Define collective conscience
Is the shared norms, values and beliefs and knowledge that makes social life and cooperation between individuals possible
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What book did Durkheim and Marcel Mauss publish arguing that religion provides basic categories such as time, space and causation?
Primitive Classification
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Who criticises totemism?
Worsley - There is no sharp division between the sacred and the profane, and that different clans share the same totems
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Who agrees with Durkheim that religion promotes solidarity?
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But how is his view different?
It promotes solidarity through psychological functions
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What two types of situations in which religion performs the role?
1. Where the outcomes is important but is uncontrollable and thus uncertain 2. At times of life crisis
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An example of type 1?
Malinowski's study of Trobriard Islanders of the Western Pacific comparing and contrasting lagoon fishing and ocean fishing
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How did performing rituals before going Ocean fishing encourage a sense control?
Rituals ensure a safe and successful expedition - eases tension, gives confidence to undertake hazardous tasks and reinforces solidarity
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How does Parsons see religions?
As helping individuals to cope with unforseen events and uncontrollable outcomes
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What does Parsons identity as essential functions that religion performs?
It creates and legitimates society's central values, it's also the primary source of meaning
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What sociologist is also interested in how religion unifies society?
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Define civil religion
A belief system that attacks sacred qualities to society itself
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What country is an example of this?
America - ('the american way of life')
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Define substantive definitions


Focus on the content or substance of religious beliefs, such as beliefs in God or the supernatural

Card 3


Define functional definitions


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Card 4


Define constructionist definitions


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How do functionalists define society?


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