Flashcards in Definitions Of Religion Deck (13)
What are the three main ways in which sociologists define religion?
Substantive, functional and social constructionist
What do substantive definitions tend to focus on?
The content or substance of religious belief, such as belief in God or the supernatural
How does Max Weber define religion?
He defines religion as belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically
Substantive definitions are exclusive. What does this mean?
They draw a clear line between religious and non-religious beliefs
What are substantive definitions accused of?
Western bias because they exclude religions such as Buddhism, which do not have the Western idea of a God
How do functional definitions define religion?
Rather than defining religion in terms of specific kinds of belief, functional definitions define it in terms of the social or psychological functions it performs for individuals or society
How does Emile Durkheim define religion?
He defines it in terms of the contribution it makes to social integration, rather than any specific belief in God or the supernatural
What are the functions that Milton Yinger identifies that religion performs for individuals?
Answering ultimate questions about the meaning of life and what happens when we die
What is an advantage of functional definitions?
They are inclusive - allowing us to include a wide range of beliefs and practices that perform functions such as integration and since they don't specify a belief in God or the supernatural there is no bias against non-western religions
What is a criticism of functional definitions?
Just because an institution helps integrate individuals into groups, this does not make it a religion. For example, collective chanting at a football game
How do social constructions view religion?
They take an interpretivist approach that focuses on how members of society themselves define religion and they therefore argue that it is not possible to produce a single universal definition of religion
How does Alan Aldridge demonstrate the diversity of religious definitions within society?
He shows how, for its followers, Scientology is a religion, whereas several governments have denied it legal status and sought to ban it