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Lecture

october 20


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC250Y1
Professor
Joseph Bryant

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October 20th 2010
Soc of Religion
For essay environment
-compare art that looks different
-take photographs of the art, where possible
-supply photocopies of those pictures with the paper
-choose religions with which you have
-record your expressions and give reasons for those expressions
-compare art from 2 different religions
exam format
-mostly short definitions
-slightly longer mini essay type questions
-textbook chapter 1, but therell probably be more from lecture
Lecture
Emile Durkheim (1858- 1917)
-part of the functionalist school
-concerned with moral order and deeply anxious over the pathologies of modern
societies
-Durkheim emphasizes the functional role of religion in providing normative integration,
a moral binding, a basis for social solidarity
-division of labor creates social disintegration. In societies without division of labor had
mechanical solidarity. More modern societies has more separate groups which create
more individualism and there was less group feeling. He felt the individual would find it
difficult to survive in a society without those totems of social solidarity
-Individuals were living more autonomous lives and did not have the support that a more
communal society which values group ideas over individual ones would provide
-Religion is an “interdependent systems of beliefs and practices regarding things which
are sacred
-he felt the forces of modern life were eroding those necessary aspects (the gods are
growing old or already dead, and secularism is on the rise)
www.notesolution.com

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-The sacred--profane distinction is the basis for religion, he felt this was much more
important than religion as the belief in gods or spirits
-The sacred is that which is hallowed, set apart, extraordinary-- the profane is the world
of the everyday
-so the question is: why does a sense of the sacred arise? where does it come from?
Method: he himself does not carry out field work. He studied field reports and folklore
on the earliest recorded forms of religious practice and belief, for these contain the
foundations for later, more developed religions = ethnographic reports on the
aboriginals in australia and the Indian tribes of North America
-”all the essential elements of religions thought and life ought to be found, at least in
germ, in the most primitive religions”
-the most prominent theory at the time was probably Tylers theory and durkheim
critiques this and also theories of naturalism (the divinities and spirits are the forces of
nature)
-Durkheim argues both of these views are positing cognitive mistakes, mental errors--
religion is to universal and permanent to be based on unreal imaginings-- religion must
correspond to something indubitably real and powerful (the projections from dreams are
mistakes to him and it is unlikely for him that these can be the basis for the origin of
religion)
-D argues neither animism nor naturalism can account for the origins of the sacred
-Rather, the experience and awareness of the sacred emerges out of collective life, the
dependence of each individual on a power greater than themselves, a power that gives
them identity, purpose, protection, meaning
-that power is society
-the real force beneath religion is living in a collective
-Each individual finds meaning through their position of membership in the group
-Society instils in us a sense of the Divine, for social forces stand above and outside
each individual-- we must submit to its authority, rules, norms, ideals
individuals are dependent upon society --> our society is our god
www.notesolution.com
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