SOCIOL 1A06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Mechanical And Organic Solidarity, Protestant Work Ethic, Symbolic Interactionism

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
Lecture 11 - Religion
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
"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)
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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
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
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
Facilitated rise of capitalism - could exploit workers, pay them little and use religion to
legitimate their actions
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