Topic 1: What is Religion - Definitions

Mind Map by , created over 5 years ago

A Levels Sociology Mind Map on Topic 1: What is Religion - Definitions, created by holliekingdon95 on 02/17/2014.

Created by holliekingdon95 over 5 years ago
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Topic 1: What is Religion - Definitions
1 Substantive Definitions
1.1 Focusing on the contents or substance of religious belief, e.g. God and the Supernatural.
1.2 Mark Weber (1905) defines religion as a belief in the superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically.
1.3 Substantive definition are exclusive and draw a clear line between religious and non-religious beliefs
1.4 They conform to a widespread view of religion as belief in God. However, defining religion in this way leaves no room for beliefs and practises that perform similar functions to religion but do not involve belief in God but do not involve a belief in God.
1.5 Accused of a Western Bias because they exclude religions which do not have a Western Idea of God
2 Functional Definitions
2.1 The Functional Definition of Religion defines it in terms of the social or psychological functions in performs for individuals or society.
2.2 Emile Durkheim (1915) defines religion in terms of the contribution it makes to social integration, rather than specific belief in God or the supernatural
2.3 Functional definitions of religion are inclusive - allowing us to include a wide range of beliefs and practises that perform functions such as integration. And because they do not specify in the belief of God and the Supernatural.
2.4 However, because an institution helps integrate individuals into groups this does not make it a religion.
3 Social Constructionist Definitions
3.1 They take an interpretivist approach that focuses on how members of society themselves define religion and argue that it is not possible to produce a single universal definition or religion to cover all cases because different individuals and groups mean very different things by 'religion'.
3.2 They are interested in how definitions of religion are constructed, challenged and fought over.
3.3 Alan Aldridge (2007) shows how Scientology is a religion, whereas several governments have denied its legal status as a religion and have sought to ban it. This shows definitions of religion can be contested and are influenced by who has power to define the situation
3.4 They do not assume that religion always involves a belief in God or the supernatural, or that it performs similar functions for all those in society. Their approach allows them to get close to the meanings people themselves give to religion
3.5 However, this makes it impossible to generalise about the nature of religion because people have widely differing views about what counts as a religion

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