Functionalists see society as...
Society has basic needs it must meet to...
Institutions perform certain functions to maintain the social system by meeting a need. The most basic needs are...
Functionalists say this makes social order possible...
Religious institutions play a central part in creating & maintaining value consensus, order and solidarity.
Durkheim's key feature of religion...
Sacred things - set apart and forbidden, inspiring feelings of awe, fear and wonder, with taboos and prohibitions.
Sacred things create powerful feelings in believers because they represent something of great power.
Rituals - religion has sacred & collective rituals/practices. For example; worship.
He believed the essence of religion could be discovered by studying its simplest form in the simplest society.
The Arunta worship their emblem - the sacred totem.
Durkheim believed these clan members were really worshiping society.
A criticism of Durkheim's idea is that he used secondary data of the Arunta.
Durkheim said the sacred symbols represent society's collective conscience.
Regular shared religious rituals reinforce the collective conscience and maintain social integration.
Religions make us feel a part of something greater than ourselves, it strengthens us to face life's problems.
The cognitive functions of religion:
Durkheim, on the cognitive functions of religion:
Durkheim & Mauss (1903)
Important with an controllable/uncertain outcome:
In times of life crises:
Parsons (1967) 2 other essential functions of religion
1. Religion does this by sacralising norms & values, by promoting value consensus and social stability. E.g in US Protestantism has sacralised the core American values of individualism, meritocracy and self-discipline.
Bellah (1970) Civil Religion
Civil religion integrates society in a way that individual religions can't. American civil religion involves loyalty to the nation-state & belief in God. These values equal being a 'true American'.
Marxist Theories of Religion!
Society divided into 2 classes, one exploits the labour of the other. The capitalist class owns the means of production and exploits the working-class for profit.
Religion as ideology: (ideology is a belief system that distorts people's perception of reality in the interests of r/c)
Marx said that religion operates as an ideological weapon used by the r/c to legitimate/justify the suffering of the poor as being inevitable and God-given. Misleads poor into believing they'll be rewarded in afterlife.
Religion is 'spiritual gin' and 'mystical fog'
Religion also legitimates the power & privilege of the dominant class by their position appearing divinely ordained. So disobedience isn't just illegal, but a sinful challenge to God's authority.
Religion and alienation
Marx (1844). Religion is the product of alienation.
In these dehumanising conditions, religion is a form of consolation - it's the "opium of the people" and "It is the sigh of the oppressed creature."
Some Marxists reject the concept of alienation
Feminist Theories of Religion!
Examples of patriarchy in religion:
- Organisations are mainly male-dominated
- Places of worship. Sexes are segregates and women are marginalised in acts of worship.
- Sacred texts. Feature the doings of male Gods and prophets and reflect ant-female stereotypes.
- Laws and customs. Women are given fewer rights. Customs lead to unequal treatment. Religion regulates women's traditional domestic & reproductive role.
El Saadawi (1980)
Western feminists see the hijab worn by Muslim women as a symbol of oppression but to the wearer it may symbolise resistance to oppression/a symbol of liberation that enables her to enter the public sphere without losing her culture and history.
The position of women in some religions is changing