What is religion?

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What are the 3 main ways in which sociologists define religion?
1. Substantive 2. Functional 3. Social constructionist
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What do substantive definitions concentrate on?
The content or substance of a religious belief.
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Such as a belief in...
...God or the supernatural.
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For example: how does Weber define religion?
A belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically.
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Why are substantive definitions of religion defined as exclusive?
They draw a clear line between religious and non-religious beliefs by saying that a set of beliefs must include belief in the God or the supernatural in order to be considered religious.
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However, in leaving out religious such as Buddhism, what are they accused of?
Western bias as Buddhism doesn't hold the Western idea of God.
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Rather than defining religion in terms of specific kinds of belief, functional definitons define it in terrms of...
...the social or psychological functions it performs for the individual or society.
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How does Durkheim define religion?
In terms of the contribution it makes to social integration rather than a belief in God or the supernatral.
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Why might functional definitions of religion be described as inclusive?
They allow us to include a wide range of beliefs and practices that perform social integration.
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This means that there cannot be any bias against...
...non-western religions.
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However, just because an institution or a belief helps integrate individuals into groups,
this does not make it a religion.
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For example:
A collective chant at a football match isn't a religion but it still performs the function of social integration.
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Why might it be argued that social construnctionalist definitions take an interactionalist approach?
They focus on how many different members of society define religion.
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As a result, they argue that it is not possible to...
...provide a single, universal definition of religion.
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Social constructionalists are interested in how religious definitions are...
...socially constructed/challenged/fought over.
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What did Aldridge argue?
We can see that definitions of religion can be contested and influenced by those who has power to define them by the cult Scientology being denied religious status by many governements (even though its followers see it as a real religion).
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S.Cs do not assme that religion always involves belief in...
...God or the supernatural.
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Or that religion performs..
...similar functions for everyone in all societies.
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Their approach allows them to get closer to...
...the meanings that people themselves give to religion.
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However, why does their approach make it impossible for people to generalise the nature of religious belief?
People have widely different views about what constitutes as religion.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What do substantive definitions concentrate on?

Back

The content or substance of a religious belief.

Card 3

Front

Such as a belief in...

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

For example: how does Weber define religion?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Why are substantive definitions of religion defined as exclusive?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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