Sociology - Beliefs in society - Theories of religion (functionalism)

What are the 2 definitions of religion?
Functional (define religion by what it does e.g. it's functions) and substantive (identifies key features of the religion e.g. belief in God).
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What theory is functionalism?
Structural consensus
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What did Durkheim study?
Totemism, totem acted as a symbol of social group, when tribe worships religion they worshipped society which created social stability, religion distinguishes between the sacred and profane, gods are expression of the influence of society over indivi
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What is collective conscience?
The basic shared beliefs, values and norms that make society work.
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What are the 2 functions of religion?
Socialisation and social solidarity.
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What is socialisation?
When religion provides a set of moral values, this ensures social stability e.g. the 10 commandments. When these values are made 'sacred', we're more likely to obey them e.g. 'it's a sin to steal' so religion is acting as secondary socialisation.
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What is social solidarity?
Religion creates social solidarity through shared rituals e.g. marriage, mourning and worship practises. Shared rituals unify and bind people in society/renews sense of membership. During rituals people learn that they're stronger as a group.
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What's the 3 disadvantages to the functionalist view of religion?
1) Religion can be dysfunctional for society (can be a negative force). 2) This view isn't applicable to Western societies as they're becoming secular e.g. declining attendance. 3) Durkheim examines religion is small-scale, non-liberate societies.
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Which theorist looks into Civil Religion?
Bellah (1967)
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What does Bellah say?
In modern multi-faith societies, the social solidarity is through civil religion e.g. Americanism which promotes national ID and includes all religions (the common God being worshipped is someone who embraces all Americans.
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What does O'Dea say about religion?
That religion gives meaning to life and it answers all the Qs that science can't.
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What does Parsons say about religion?
Religion helps people to deal with life crises and dealing with these avoids anomie which would threaten social order e.g. a funeral as religion gives comfort. Religion also offers answers.
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What does Malinowski say about religion?
Psychological functions of religion for the individual as religion developed as a response to psychological needs e.g. situations which make you anxious, uncertain or tense.
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What theory is functionalism?


Structural consensus

Card 3


What did Durkheim study?


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What is collective conscience?


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Card 5


What are the 2 functions of religion?


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