Functionalist Theory of Religion

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Created by leeya_chowdhury almost 7 years ago
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Sociology revision for beliefs in society, topic 2

Resource summary

Functionalist Theory of Religion
  1. Malinowski: Psychological Functions
    1. Two types of way that religion reinforces social solidarity
      1. the outcome is important but out of control- he done a study on Trobriand Islands with the contrast of fishing in the lagoon and ocean
        1. Lagoon- this is safe and certain, there is no ritual required
          1. Ocean- rituals needed and is uncertain.
            1. the ritual gives them a sense of confidence and eases the tension.
          2. life crises such as puberty, chid birth and death
            1. death- funerals reinforces the feeling of solidarity, it makes them more aware and appreciative of religion
          3. Agrees with Durkhime that it promotes solidarity but also helps to deal with stress
          4. Parson: Value and Meaning
            1. Like Malinowski- religion helps to deal with stress and has come up with 2 other positive functions of religion
              1. 1. Creates a central values
                1. 2. Primary source of meaning
                2. society's norms are legitimised through sacred meanings
                  1. religion provides a sense of meaning to the world and answers the ultimate questions e.g. what happens after death
                  2. Bellah: Civil Religion
                    1. Civil religion intergrates its members better than individual religion. American civil religion involves: loyalty to nation state + Believe in God= a true American
                      1. to express their beliefs they would sing national anthems 'one nation under God'
                        1. However their God is different from religious God, rather an 'American God' this is sacred as it binds the Americans together through their shared beliefs
                      2. Alternative Functions
                        1. Religion is not the only source that provides it's members with collectivism, other social groups may perform similar functions
                          1. shared norms and values and maintaining social cohesion
                          2. Bellah- other belief systems could perform the same functions as religion.
                            1. Nazi has a shared beliefs of Jews but was not seen to be a religion
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