Functionalism and Religion.

Ella Kimmings
Mind Map by Ella Kimmings, updated more than 1 year ago
Ella Kimmings
Created by Ella Kimmings almost 7 years ago
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Mind Map on Functionalism and Religion., created by Ella Kimmings on 11/28/2014.

Resource summary

Functionalism and Religion.
  1. Functionalists see religion as a conservative force, promoting social harmony, social integration and social solidarity through the reinforcement of value consensus. It is a basis of social order. It focuses on the idea that society can only survive if people share at least some common beliefs on what is right and wrong.
    1. Durkheim:
      1. Totemism: The practice of worshipping a scared object, known as a totem, represents religion in its basic form. Durkheim argues that the totem is created by society and so sacred because it is a symbol of the group or society. When people worship the totem they worship society. Totemism is seen to act as a social glue, along with religious ceremonies, binding people together and building bonds between them. Moral ties are gained as people worship together..
        1. However although it can be seen that religion brings people together, it is questionned whether this can perform it's role in contemporary societies where beliefs have wide diversity.
        2. The collective conscience: This is the shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that make social life and cooperation between individuals possible. For Durkheim the religious rituals reinforce the collective conscience and maintains social integration. This prevents social change.
          1. However this can only be true if people actually follow religion, and as covered in further sections it may be the case that secularization is occurring in Western European countries therefore this wouldn't explain the collective conscience there.
          2. Civil religion: Durkheim believed that supernatural beliefs within religion would eventually disappear.. Civil religion suggests that sacred qualities are attached to aspects of society itself, with non-religious rituals and ceremonies which have similar functions to religion however don't involve the supernatural. Durkheim believes that if the supernatural beliefs do go then civil religions will take over.
            1. However if we get rid of the supernatural beliefs in religion then surely we are no longer speaking about religion at all. We are simply talking about non-religious ways in which people are socialized and integrated into society.
          3. Malinowski:
            1. Like Durkheim, Malinowski sees religion as reinforcing social norms and values promoting social solidarity. He also sees religion as providing an explanation for events that were hard to explain. Religion fulfills a need for emotional security and relieves emotional stress, this of which threatens social stability.
              1. Malinowski said that religion provides a source of comfort and an explanation/meaning for individuals when faced by crises. One example would be bereavement. Funeral services provide us with a source of comfort either through the idea of life after death or the gathering of family and friends for comfort.
              2. Parsons:
                1. Parsons puts emphasis on how religion provides and underpins the core values for cultures and the social norms that regulate people's behaviour. The set of moral beliefs and values in religion become deeply integrated within the socialization process and effects everyday behaviour of both believers and non-beiievers. One example would be social rules about killing, most individuals will feel guilty about an act like this due to the powerful role of socialization.
                  1. However as secularization is argued to be happening in Western European societies it may be unlikely that religion still acts as an agent of social control., even though it may have done in the past. In today's society people are more likely to take part in deviant acts.
                2. Evaluation:
                  1. As functionalism sees religion as protecting status quo, it is also argued against. It ignores that religion can sometimes take part in creating social change. For example Islamic republic in Iran and talibanisation.
                    1. Religion has also been seen to play a greater role in dividing people rather than uniting people, as shown in religious based wars or conflicts. It is thought that if a religious belief is stronger the more they think others are wrong, evil or need to be defeated.
                      1. Examples of religion causing conflict involve conflicts within the same religion and conflict between religions. Conflict between the same religion could be for example Protestant and Catholic Christians in Northern Ireland. Conflicts between religions could refer to warfare between Hindus and Muslims in order to get India divided into two separate countries.
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