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Lecture 19

SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Redistribution Of Income And Wealth, Positive Force, Protestant Work Ethic

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Sheldon Ungar

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Mar 5th Lecture 19 Religion Caron
Hear about the discipline and the program has to offer, Q+A period
Thursday, March 20th 1-4pm
Sociology Dept, 725 Spadina (Bloor & Spadina), 2nd floor lounge
What is Religion
How do we know what we know?
Historically: Religion
- Offered answers to most of lifes questions (truth/false, right/wrong)
- Imbued every aspect of human social life with meaning (birth, death, rites of passage)
- Religious beliefs so common that most societies had no word for religion
Means different things No consensus on definitions
Substantive definitions Focus on what religion is
1) To be religious is to believe in something
2) To be religious entails actions
3) To be religious involves emotions
4) Religion is a social phenomenon
Functional definition Focus on what religion does
1) Provides meaning and purpose to life
2) Promotes social cohesion and a sense of belonging
3) Provides social control
Many definitions attempt to combine both, such as sociologist Emile Durkheim:
Religion as a system of beliefs, symbols, rituals, based on some sacred or supernatural
realm, that guides human behavior, gives meaning to life, and unites believers into ()
Worlds 16 Largest Religions
1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
2. Islam: 1.5 billion
3. Hinduism: 900 million
4. Chinese folk: 394 million
5. Buddhism: 376 million
6. Sikhism: 23 million
7. Juche: 19 million
8. Spiritism: 15 million
9. Judaism: 14 million
10. Falun Gong: 10 million
11. Baha’I: 7 million
12. Cao Dai: 5 million
13. Confucianism: 5 million
14. New Age: 5 million
15. Jainism: 4 million
16. Shinto: 4 million
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Secular/Nonreligious/agnostic/atheist: 1.1 billion
Religion in the news
Policemen and soldiers in Cameroon gather around the vehicle in which seven members of a
French family were riding before being kidnapped near the Nigerian border on Feb. 19, 2013
PM establishes Office of Religious Freedom to promote freedom of religion around the
Stephen Harper looks on as Dr. Andrew Bennett, right, shakes hands with Muslim cleric Lai
Khan Ma ()
Catholic schools: Ontario parents fighting to have children exempt from religious studies
(Feb 3rd )
Oliver Erazo, with sons Amilicar, left, and Jonathan (in grades 12 and 10, respectively),
chose a Notre Dame Catholic school for his children because its close to home and garners
Religion in Canada
National anthem includes the line God keep our land glorious and free!
Religious authority has declined IN Canada governs fewer aspects of life than it used to
Other institutions have grown in importance: Medicine, Psychiatry, Criminal Justice,
Religious beliefs vary in content and intensity
Religious practices vary in form and frequency
Due to structure of society and our place in it
Effect: religious impulse takes thousands of forms
The task of the sociology of religion is to account for these variations
Sociology of Religion
Sociology: Systematic study of human behavior in social context
Bibby: Science and religion are compatible
Religion about faith
Science limits itself to perceivable, observable parts of religion
For example
1. Written texts
2. Patterns of behaviors
3. Individuals opinions about religious matters
Sociology of Religion
How many and what kinds of people are involved in religious groups?
Why does one religion predominate here, another there?
Who believes in life after death and what do individuals think will happen when they die?
The extent to which people have spiritual needs, and what they mean by spirituality?
What is the impact the religious involvement has on individuals and societies?
Under what circumstances does religion act as a source of social stability and act as a force
for social change?
Are we becoming more or less religious? Implications of this?
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