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sociological approach to religion

The Sociological Approach to Religion. The antithesis to this alienation is freedom. This is because it tries to explain some of the religious issues from a sociological point of view. This rationalist perspective has led to secularization theories of various kinds. For example, it helps answer questions like, “How was the world created?” “Why do we suffer?” “Is there a plan for our lives?” and “Is there an afterlife?” As another function, religion provides emotional comfort in times of crisis. Conflict theorists view religion as an institution that helps maintain patterns of social inequality. Functionalists contend that religion serves several functions in society. [28] The United States is both highly religious and pluralistic, standing out among other industrialized and wealthy nations in this regard. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. This definition also does not stipulate what exactly may be considered sacred. His work is in the tradition of Max Weber, who saw modern societies as places in which rationality dominates life and thought. He also acknowledges that other forms of belief and meaning, such as those provided by art, music, literature, popular culture (a specifically modern phenomenon), drug taking, political protest, and so on are important for many people. Wilson[17] insists that non-scientific systems – and religious ones in particular – have experienced an irreversible decline in influence. But if someone makes it into a headstone, or another person uses it for landscaping, it takes on different meanings—one sacred, one profane. This power dynamic has been used by Christian institutions for centuries to keep poor people poor and to teach them that they shouldn’t be concerned with what they lack because their “true” reward (from a religious perspective) will come after death. Durkheim is generally considered the first sociologist who analyzed religion in terms of its societal impact. Here, in Marx's eyes, religion enters. Two older approaches to globalization include modernization theory, a functionalist derivative, and world-systems theory, a Marxist approach. The knowledge we have about the world is provided for us by the languages and discourses we encounter in the times and places in which we live our lives. The feminist perspective is a conflict theory view that focuses specifically on gender inequality. According to functionalists, "religion serves several purposes, like providing answers to spiritual mysteries, offering emotional comfort, and creating a place for social interaction and social control. Berger also notes that unlike Europe, America has seen the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, or "born-again Christians".[36]:78[37][38]. Depending on the type of religion in the family, it can involve a different familial structure. Languages/discourses define reality for us. The public face and much of the public's awareness of religious diversity are filtered through the mosaic of symbols that demarcate religious differences. This question led Durkheim to posit that religion is not just a social creation but something that represents the power of society: When people celebrate sacred things, they celebrate the power of their society. Sects are high-tension organizations that don't fit well within the existing social environment. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. He also separated magic as pre-religious activity. American civil religion, for example, might be said to have its own set of sacred "things": the flag of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. [4] Marx viewed alienation as the heart of social inequality. The History of Religion as a Sociological Concept. He sees that modern preoccupations with meaning and being as a self-indulgence that is only possible because scientific knowledge has enabled our world to advance so far. The Birth of the Clinic: an archaeology of medical perception, London, Tavistock, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism, The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism, Sociological classifications of religious movements, London School of Economics and Political Science, "CAN RELİGİOSİTY BE MEASURED? Other sociologists have taken Durkheim's concept of what religion is in the direction of the religion of professional sports, the military, or of rock music. Pluralism is the presence and engaged coexistence of numerous distinct groups in one society. In the United States of America, many politicians, court systems, schools, and businesses embrace secularism. Processes of globalization carried religious cosmologies – including traditional conceptions of universalism – to the corners of the world, while these cosmologies legitimated processes of globalization. They have mainstream "safe" beliefs and practices relative to those of the general population. Additionally, regular attendance or affiliation do not necessarily translate into a behavior according to their doctrinal teachings. Because religion can be central to many people’s concept of themselves, sometimes there is an “in-group” versus “out-group” feeling toward other religions in our society or within a particular practice. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal, because it is found in all societies in one form or another. Indeed, in one sense the origins of the sociology can be attributed to the efforts of nineteenth-century Europeans to come to grips with the crisis of faith that shook Western society during the revolutionary upheavals of its industrial transformation. While some people think of religion as something individual because religious beliefs can be highly personal, religion is also a social institution. Religion helps to create social order and maintains the value consensus. "[5], Central to Marx's theories was the oppressive economic situation in which he dwelt. However, as the division of labour makes the individual seem more important (a subject that Durkheim treats extensively in his famous The Division of Labour in Society), religious systems increasingly focus on individual salvation and conscience. Some sociologists of religion explore the theoretical analysis of the sociological dimensions of religiosity. On an extreme level, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism are all examples of this dynamic. McKinnon, AM. Human beings are troubled, he says, with the question of theodicy – the question of how the extraordinary power of a divine god may be reconciled with the imperfection of the world that he has created and rules over. The Protestant Ethic thesis has been much critiqued, refined, and disputed, but is still a lively source of theoretical debate in sociology of religion. Religion, he argued, was an expression of social cohesion. Because religion helps to define motivation, Weber believed that religion (and specifically Calvinism) actually helped to give rise to modern capitalism, as he asserted in his most famous and controversial work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Tác giả: OpenStaxCollege. Conflict theorists also point out that those in power in a religion are often able to dictate practices, rituals, and beliefs through their interpretation of religious texts or via proclaimed direct communication from the divine. In that sense, religion may be seen as declining because of its waning ability to influence behavior. with families, since it is normally[citation needed] passed on from generation to generation. He examined the effects of religion on economic activities and noticed that heavily Protestant societies—such as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germany—were the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. Religion is a social institution, because it includes beliefs and practices that serve the needs of society. The sociological approach to the study of religion is unique in itself. Supporting evidence for Durkheim is offered through Eliade, while dissension is offered by Malinowski. To outsiders who know them, people are identified in part by their religious legacy. Wilson, Bryan (1982). As societies come in contact with other societies, there is a tendency for religious systems to emphasize universalism to a greater and greater extent. Classical, seminal sociological theorists of the late 19th and early 20th century such as Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx were greatly interested in religion and its effects on society. In this, "Marx never suggested that religion ought to be prohibited. – discuss] and they most always send their kids through confirmation.[relevant? To the contrary, as globalization intensified many different cultures started to look into different religions and incorporate different beliefs into society. Sociology uses the tools of social science to explore religious beliefs and practices, humanism and other secular approaches to understanding, and organizations rooted in shared belief systems. The Totemic Principle and how it can be applied to religion is also discussed. The anthropological objection , baldly stated, claims that it is just not correct or helpful to say that religion only functions as a term associated with western imperialist and neo-colonialist projects. He contended that these values need to be maintained to maintain social stability. Religion is an expression of our collective consciousness, which is the fusion of all of our individual consciousnesses, which then creates a reality of its own. The task of building a scientific understanding of religion is a central part of the sociological enterprise. 1-2, pp. Modern-day sociologists often apply one of three major theoretical perspectives. From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice that define what people consider to be sacred or spiritual (Fasching and deChant 2001; Durkheim 1915). Weber argues for making sense of religious action on its own terms. The traditional focuses of sociology have included social stratification, social class, culture, social mobility, religion, secularization, law, and deviance. Of these, Durkheim and Weber are often more difficult to understand, especially in light of the lack of context and examples in their primary texts. It provides social support and social networking and offers a place to meet others who hold similar values and a place to seek help (spiritual and material) in times of need. Küçükcan, T. (2010). German philosopher, journalist, and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx (1818–1883) also studied the social impact of religion. Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology and his rationalization thesis: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1915), The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1915), and Ancient Judaism (1920). Contemporary sociology of religion may also encompass the sociology of irreligion (for instance, in the analysis of secular-humanist belief systems). Modern life became increasingly subject to medical control – the medical gaze, as Foucault called it. This points to the falsity of the secularization theory. Martin even proposed that the concept of secularization be eliminated from social scientific discourse, on the grounds that it had only served ideological purposes and because there was no evidence of any general shift from a religious period in human affairs to a secular period. From this perspective, religion serves several purposes, like providing answers to spiritual mysteries, offering emotional comfort, and creating a place for social interaction and social control. Weber is not a positivist; he does not believe we can find out "facts" in sociology that can be causally linked. His list consist of the following variables: belief, knowledge, experience, practice (sometimes subdivided into private and public ritual) and consequences. In particular, sociologists use the words 'cult' and 'sect' without negative connotations, even though the popular use of these words is often pejorative.[19]. Religious rituals bring order, comfort, and organization through shared familiar symbols and patterns of behavior. This along with the rationalism implied by monotheism led to the development of rational bookkeeping and the calculated pursuit of financial success beyond what one needed simply to live – and this is the "spirit of capitalism". Gellner doesn't claim that non-scientific knowledge is in the process of dying out. Religion’s Influence in Contemporary Society, Readings in the Sociology of Religion, Ohio: Charles E. Merril: 38–56. Sociology has gradually expanded its focus to include more diverse subjects such as health, medical, penal institutions, the Internet, or the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the status quo. Wilson does accept the presence of a large variety of non-scientific forms of meaning and knowledge, but he argues that this is actually evidence of the decline of religion. Such people were seen as possessing pre-logical, or non-rational, mentality. Durkheim's theory of religion exemplifies how functionalists examine sociological phenomena. For example, according to Paul James and Peter Mandaville: Religion and globalization have been intertwined with each other since the early empires attempted to extend their reach across what they perceived to be world-space. These universals, and the differences in the way societies and individuals experience religion, provide rich material for sociological study. They are usually most attractive to society's least privileged- outcasts, minorities, or the poor- because they downplay worldly pleasure by stressing otherworldly promises. This objective investigation may include the use both of quantitative methods (surveys, polls, demographic and census analysis) and of qualitative approaches (such as participant observation, interviewing, and analysis of archival, historical and documentary materials).[1]. In other words, whether a belief can be considered religious or not depends on the substance of what is believed. The Sociological Approach to Religion. He has engaged in a long debate with those who dispute the secularization thesis, some of which argue that the traditional religions, such as church-centered ones, have become displaced by an abundance of non-traditional ones, such as cults and sects of various kinds. In the wake of nineteenth century European industrialization and secularization, three social theorists attempted to examine the relationship between religion and society: Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx. From this perspective, the existence of non-rational accounts of reality can be explained by the benefits they offer to society. For instance, from the functionalist perspective of sociological theory, religion is an integrative force in society because it has the power to shape collective beliefs. [41][42], Thomas Luckmann maintains that the sociology of religion should cease preoccupations with the traditional and institutionalized forms of religion. Sociology of Religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. Michel Foucault was a post-structuralist who saw human existence as being dependent on forms of knowledge – discourses – that work like languages. In his magnum opus Economy and Society Weber distinguished three ideal types of religious attitudes:[11]. These views offer different lenses through which to study and understand society: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory. Durkheim's definition of religion, from Elementary Forms, is as follows: "A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them. In studying religion, sociologists distinguish between what they term the experience, beliefs, and rituals of a religion. Should Religion be Limited to Only the Private Sphere? To Foucault, what is distinctive about modernity is the emergence of discourses concerned with the control and regulation of the body. [17], One common typology among sociologists, religious groups are classified as ecclesias, denominations, sects, or cults (now more commonly referred to in scholarship as new religious movements). Dr. Berger suggested that the reason for this may have to do with the education system; in Europe, teachers are sent by the educational authorities and European parents would have to put up with secular teaching, while in the United States, schools were for much of the time under local authorities, and American parents, however unenlightened, could fire their teachers. [29] They claimed that there would be a separation of religion from the institutions such as the state, economy, and family. Bruce and Yearley (2006) defined religion “as a social phenomenon that consists of beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose.” A religious group or individual is influenced by all kinds of things, he says, but if they claim to be acting in the name of religion, we should attempt to understand their perspective on religious grounds first. Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to “the divine.” This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. Weber saw rationality as concerned with identifying causes and working out technical efficiency, with a focus on how things work and with calculating how they can be made to work more effectively, rather than why they are as they are. For instance, some sociologists have argued that steady church attendance and personal religious belief may coexist with a decline in the influence of religious authorities on social or political issues. One of the most important functions of religion, from a functionalist perspective, is the opportunities it creates for social interaction and the formation of groups. (2005). Practically, Weber noted, this was difficult psychologically: people were (understandably) anxious to know whether they would be eternally damned or not. Glock's first four dimensions have proved widely useful in research, because generally, they are simple to measure survey research. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. The works of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Max Weber (1864-1920) emphasized the relationship between religion and the economic or social structure of society. From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice that define what people consider to be sacred or spiritual (Fasching and deChant 2001; Durkheim 1915). It then addresses some methodological issues that are crucial for approaches that focus on social action, be it in the internal or the external arena. In fact, there is no sharp distinction between sociology of religion and social anthropology when these disciplines are applied to Indian studies. As stated earlier, French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915). Despite differences, there are common elements in a ceremony marking a person’s death, such as announcement of the death, care of the deceased, disposition, and ceremony or ritual. 'Reading ‘Opium of the People’: Expression, Protest and the Dialectics of Religion'. Religion offers people soteriological answers, or answers that provide opportunities for salvation – relief from suffering, and reassuring meaning. : expression, Protest and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of this dynamic inter-relation! That work like languages this definition also does not easily fit within the existing social environment,! His study of society itself the way societies and individuals experience religion, where things were defined sacred... Anthropology when these disciplines are applied to religion is distinguished [ by whom? of... It. [ 43 ] them a choice to accept or deny it. [ relevant the sect the... Was among the factors that condition people throughout their lives, although people as individuals have diverse reactions to doctrinal... Conceptions of society itself things were defined as sacred that is that are set apart and deemed forbidden—form the of. 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And intensifying contradictions. [ 18 ] [ 22 ] documentary materials a cult is a complex phenomenon requires! All societies in one form or another what is distinctive about modernity is the emergence of Christianity has occurred a! Intensifying contradictions sociological approach to religion [ 43 ] others as profane expression of social..

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