January 15 , 2014
ASociological Perspective - Religion
- How can we measure religiosity?
- How many people in a society:
- Would define themselves as religious?
- Attend worship services?
- How important is the family?
- Why has membership in some religious denominations declined/increased?
- Has society become increasingly secular?
- What are the main religious denominations in a particular country?
Perspectives on Religion
- Structural Functionalism
o It is useful for society because according to Functionalists it meets societal needs
o Our needs: spiritual or emotional needs and seek religion to meet these needs
o Durkheim: pre-industrial society characterized by mechanical solidarity;
industrial society characterized by organic solidarity
The gods people created were socially constructed, collective conscious
- a group worshipping with the same beliefs
Some of us have big life questions and we seek answers to these
philosophical questions, and some of us can’t find answers to these
questions from science alone. Creates unity and solidarity.
Evolutionary view of society. Pre-Industrial society people had shared
set of beliefs called mechanical solidarity. People have shared beliefs
and strong beliefs determined by religious doctrine. It is really
important as is the symbols associated with it, the rituals, to renew
their commitment and moral order of society.
Industrialization: populations growing, increasing division of
labour… he described how it was characterized by organic solidarity.
Amove away from religion (increasing secularism and people
believing different things)
He was worried there wasn’t enough moral regulation
(Industrialization). He believed people were having a moral crisis =
religion to the government. Government doesn’t function well to
o Creates moral boundaries, social solidarity
o Churches served many functions of welfare industries in the past Conflict Theory
- Marx Theory: religion is something people create and religion is problematic and
provides false consciousness.
- Religion hurts people by pacifying the working class from protesting their economic
situation and elites.
o Example: earn minimum wage, lack status in society, you might get involved in
place of worship by volunteering, this prevents people from rebelling.
- Distract the working class, prevents from protesting, Religious leaders and Economic
- Slavery in the United States: some social historians that white owners liked that their
slaves were religious so that they wouldn’t
- Religion provided emotional support, social networking, opportunities for literacy and
education (reading a bible)… tools to fight for thei