My Texts

assess the use of functionalist theories in understanding religion today

Assess the of Functionalist theories in understanding religion today
Functionalists have put forward their perspective on religion and how it benefits both society and the individual starting with how religion brings people together harmoniously, creating social cohesion and a sense of belonging as people believe in the same thing and all abide by the same rules. Religion creates and maintains a value consensus whilst giving society social order. By confirming to religious beliefs this allows us to gain morals and therefore Functionalists see religion as a positive aspect to society.
Durkheim defines religion as ‘a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things’. He says all societies divide the world in to the sacred and the profane. Sacred are things set apart and forbidden, inspiring feelings of awe, fear and wonder. Profane are ordinary things that have no significance. Durkheim’s views on sacred symbols represents society’s collective consciousness which is the shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that make social life possible; without such consciousness it would crumble. Participating in shared rituals binds individuals together reminding them that they are a part of a community. Religion defines values as sacred giving the people great power compared to the non-believers. Through collective worship society understands the moral bonds that unite them. Durkheim also argues that religion functions to reinforce the collective unity/ social solidarity of a group. The individual sees religion performing a significant role in allowing them to feel a part of society and strengthens us to face life’s trials and motivates us to overcome obstacles that would otherwise overpower us. Durkheim used the religion of Aborigines to develop his argument. He calls their religion ‘Totemism’, as each group of Aborigines had a sacred totem which was a symbol of their Gods and of their society as a whole which reinforces the sense of social…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *