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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 - Religion (with textbook notes).docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

Lecture 11 - Religion January-17-13 7:00 PM Which questions can Sociology address?  Does God exist?  Is there life after death?  How should we define and measure religiosity?  How many people in a society would define themselves as religious?  How important is the family in socializing children into a particular faith?  How regularly do people pray?  Are there any social factors that are associated with religiosity?  Has society become increasingly secular?  What are the religious denominations in a particular country?  How important is the family?  Sociologists: not concerned about the essence of religion, but studying the conditions/effects of a particular type of social behaviour  Whether religious ideas are true is not our concern, but rather the fact that they are believed to be true  The fact that religious ideas are held means they potentially can have an important impact on individuals and social life Perspectives on Religion Structural Functionalism  Religion is functional, useful for society, meets our societal/spiritual needs  Provides financial support  Helps create moral boundaries + social solidarity  Churches served function of education  Before social services - served as social care  Durkheim's perspective on God  Gods that people worshipped are socially created  Origin of religion is social  Set of shared beliefs = collective conscience  Important aspect of religious practice is that it's often done as a group; people worship/pray together  "God" was the group experiencing itself  Science doesn't have answers to most important questions in life and so religion can step in to provide answers  Societies integrate people into society by creating sense of unity/solidarity  Evolutionary view of society - moving through diff stages  Pre-industrial society based on mechanical solidarity  Societies move to mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity  Mechanical - societies characterized by strong shared beliefs that are determined by religious doctrine (religion, religious symbols - tells people right from wrong, religious celebrations/rituals to renew their commitment)  Moved towards organic solidarity - increasing secularism (move away from religion) and plurality of beliefs (diff sets of beliefs)  Characterized by an absence of moral regulation  Not enough telling people right from wrong  Worried that society was facing moral crisis  Crisis in morality because source for moral regulation has shifted from religion and held by state/government  Ineffective for source of moral authority Conflict Theory  Karl Marx  Felt religion was something people created  Religion is source of false consciousness for working class  Serves to pacify working class, prevents them from revolting against capitalism  Religion is the opium of the masses  Distracts them from revolting  People who lack economic/no status can get religious status (e.g. taxi driver no economic status but head of temple theory)  Gives religious status to working class  Distraction  Ruling economic class encourage religion because it's a tool of subordination  White American slave owners believed that religious slaves were better slaves because following their religion made them better and less likely to revolt  Others argue Christian worship religiosity provides emotional/practical/social support, education/literacy (reading bible)  Religious leaders + economic elites similar Symbolic Interactionism  Look at meanings attached to religion  How do they define religiosity  Religious symbols - how people dress (priests/rabbis), physical structure of place of worship (architecture), norms (how interact with religious figures),  Max Weber  How religion shaped society  How religion shaped economic structures  "The Protestant Ethic" + "spirit of capitalism" books  Reason capitalism took off in England and U.S. is linked to religious ideas held by people  Protestant faith "Calvinism" taught certain religious principles which facilitated capitalism  Calvinism emphasized being frugal (saving money - invest money and open up bigger factors), working hard  Religion taught people of Calvinism that small number of people on earth had be chosen by god for salvation (for after life)  Know through certain signs - tied to economic things (e.g. success, frugal, working hard)  Facilitated rise of capitalism - could exploit workers, pay them little and use religion to legitimate their actions Feminist Theory  Emphasizing gender and critiquing gender based equality  Organized religion subordinate women  Organized religion empower women  Historical patterns of discrimination Durkheim and Collectivity  Wrote "Elementary Forms of the Religious Life" - argued religion's origin is social  People who live in a community come to share common sentiments, creating a collective conscience  When gathering together, they have a feeling of being in the presence of something beyond themselves that is experienced by each member, yet greater than the sum of their individual consciences  Labels this "God" (socially created)  Believes that religious rites provide guidelines as to how people should act in the presence of the sacred  E.g. Muslims pray 5 times a day, Hindus cover their heads in temple etc.  Groups feel need to uphold and reaffirm collective sentiments, people come together as a "church"  Idea of religion is inseparable from it  Religion meets needs at individual level but also creates social solidarity  Defines religion as "a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to scared things which unite into one single moral community called a Church"  Didn't believe religion would disappear  Though dominant groups and forms of expression might change  Religion explanations will always have a place b/c science is incomplete and advances slowly thus religion fills the gap Max Weber and Ideas  Wasn't concerned with whether religion was false or true  Believed that religion, in addition to having supernatural components is largely oriented toward this world and thus, religious ideas/behaviour should frequently be evident in everyday conduct  Examined possibility that the moral tone that characterized capitalism in the Western world (protestant ethic) can be traced back to the influence of the Protestant Reformation  Wanted to understand the manner in which ideas become effective forces in history  Stated that ideas, regardless of whether they are objectively true or false represent a person's definition of reality and thus have the potential to influence behaviour  Noted that God conceptions are strongly related to economic, social and political conditions in which people live  Growth of monotheism (belief in one god) is related to goals of political unification  Different groups in society vary in their inclination to be religious  Peasants religious when threatened  Nobility fund religion beneath their honour  Middle class see religion largely in ethical terms  Working class replaces religion with other ideologies Measuring Religiosity Sociologists used to ask:  What is your religion?  Do you belong to a congregation?  How often do you attend religious services? What are the limitations of operationalizing religiosity in this way?  Too simplistic  Other so
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