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Flashcards in Sociological Perspectives on Religion Deck (19)
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1

Durkheim (Functionalist)

Religion is based upon the division of the sacred and the profane

religion: sacred things and what they represent

2

Durkheim's Definition of Religion

a unified system of beliefs and practices related to sacred things, that is to say things set apart and forbidden

3

Totemism (definition)

simplest and most basic form of religion
Australian Aborigines

4

Totemism as a form of religion (Durkheim quote)

in worshiping god, people are in fact worshiping society. society is the real object of religious veneration

5

Why do people not worship society itself and worship totems instead?

"it is easier for a person to visualize and direct his feelings of awe toward a symbol than towards a more complex thing as a clan" - Durkheim

6

Religion and Collective Consciousness

religion reinforces collective consciousness
worship of society strengthens the values and moral beliefs that form the basis of social life

7

Collective Worship

social groups come together in religious worship
express common faith
strengthen the integration into society

8

Criticisms of Durkheim

1. Dawson
- Durkheim only studied a limited number of Aboriginal groups
-cannot generalize such findings

2. Hamilton
-Durkheim ignored the conflict between religious beliefs and the society

3. Exaggeration of the relationship between society and religion
-while religion can be important in promoting social solidarity and reinforcing social values, critics believe that religion is not the worship of society
-Durkheim's views are relevant to smaller, non-literate societies and less relevant in modern societies

9

The importance of Durkheim's research

Dawson
"despite its limitations, Durkheim's research continues as an important reference point for contemporary sociological reflection"

Evidence
-Paden
Western Wall in Jerusalem has great symbolic importance to Jews
-sacred objects

10

Malinowski and Emotional Stress/ Life Crisis

1) Trobriand Islands, New Guinea
religion alleviates the pain and stress associated with life crises such as death
ex. funeral rites related to religion

2) rituals
ex. fishing rituals to reduce the anxiety of fishing beyond the lagoon

11

Criticisms of Malinowski

Tambiah
-exaggeration of the importance of religious rituals in helping people cope with situations of stress and uncertainty
ex. many of the rituals in the Trobriand Islands have to do with maintaining social solidarity, many of those rituals are related to maintaining prestige in the society

12

Malinowski (General)

religion reinforces social social norms and values and promotes social solidarity as it helps deal with situations of emotional stress that threaten the stability of society

13

Parsons (Value Consensus)

religion provides guidelines for everyday conduct
establishes general principles, moral beliefs
establishes a consensus necessary for stabilizing society

Ex. 10 Commandments
-Thou shall not kill
Christianity

14

Parsons (Social Order)

religion addresses the problems that occur in society and disrupt social life

1. Unexpected
-death// premature death
2. Uncertainty
-weather affecting agriculture

AS SUCH^ EVENTS CANNOT BE FORESEEN OR PREDICTED, RELIGION HELPS MAINTAIN SOCIAL STABILITY BY RELIEVING STRESS AND ANXIETY AND MAINTAINING SOCIAL ORDER

15

Parsons (Functions of Religion)

to make sense of all the experiences of life, no matter how meaningless or useless

religion provides meanings to events that people do not understand or have difficulty overcoming

ex. why people endure pain and deprivation?
-Religion: suffering is imposed by God to test the person's faith

16

General Definition of Religion (CIE)

1. set of beliefs
-notion of god// supernatural being
2. set of practices
-collective worship or prayer// rituals as well
3. some form of organisation
-collective expression of religion

17

Inclusive Definition of Religion

broadest view
definition focuses on what religion does for people
Durkheim: social solidarity and social integration
does not matter who or what you worship as long as you do it in a specific, often collective way
sees religion as everything and everywhere

18

Exclusive Definition of Religion

narrower view of religion
-belief in god/ supernatural
-prayer, collective worship and ceremonies

focus on the content of religion
marks behaviors distinct to religion

-sacred objects
-moral codes
-communication with the supernatural

19

Functions of Religion (Alpert)

1. Discipline
religious moral rules

2. Cohesion
religions ceremonies bring people together

3. Vitalization
shared values propagate a sense of identity and common culture and togetherness

4. Euphony
pain and crisis is alleviated by collective worship