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Lecture 21

SOC101Y1 Lecture 21: Sociology of Religion

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Christian O.Caron

SOC101Y1 Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Sociology of Religion What is Religion? - How do we know what we know? - Historically, religion: • offered answers to most of life’s questions (truth/false, right/wrong) • imbued every aspect of human social life with meaning (birth, death) Religious beliefs so common that most societies had no word for religion • - Religion is …. • structured system of beliefs guidelines • • binding • an explanations for things that we cant explain a way of life • • self discipline • worship of something of higher power man-made • • hope • offers moral standards - many different meanings - no consensus on definitions - Substantive definitions- focus on what religion is • to be religious is to believe in something to be religious entails actions • • to be religious involves emotions • religion is a social phenomenon - Functional definitions - focus on what religion does • provides meaning and purpose to life • promotes social cohesion and a sense of belonging 1 SOC101Y1 Wednesday, March 15, 2017 • 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 behaviour, gives meaning to life, and unites believers into a community 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, education Religion - 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 behaviour in social context - Bibby: Science and religion are compatible - Religion - about faith - Science - limits itself to perceivable, “observable parts” of religion - For example: • Written texts • Patterns of behaviours • individual’s opinions about religious matters - analyzes how individuals, social institutions, and cultures construe God or the sacred 2 SOC101Y1 Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - How these ideas penetrate public culture and individual lives - implications of those interpretations for individual, institutional, and societal processes - the sociological study of religion is as old as the discipline of th Durkheim and Collectivity (Functionalist) - Religion’s origin is social - ppl living in a community come to share common sentiments that form a collective conscience- “god” is the group experiencing itself
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