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Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Religion.docx

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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 13 - Religion Theoretical Insights into Religion  Religion’s relationship with social forces o How forces influence individuals and their lives  Religion: set of organize beliefs about supernatural or spiritual world that guides behaviour and joins people into communities of believers  Faith: belief system based on conviction that does not require objective evidence to substantiate its claims Functionalism  Emile Durkheim o Elementary Forms of Religious Life  Defining analysis of religion o All religions originate in society, creating religion by separating world into profane and sacred o Profane: elements of everyday world that don’t inspire or motivate  Objects, practices, behaviours o Sacred: Things or activities that are set apart, ritualized and inspire emotional reactions  Lord’s Day  Originates within members of society who collectively assign special meanings to certain objects or rituals o Totem: object that has special significance and meaning for a group of believers o Religion is extension of society and functions to join members of group according to shared meanings and world views  Collective conscience  Strong source of social power inspiring collective action  Collective effervescene: join together for common purpose  Expressed when group achieves new and dynamic expression of groups will and motivate rapid changes in social structure  Answers the meaning of life  Functions of religion within society: o Joins people into communities of believers that promote social stability and sense of belonging  Balanced and cohesive moral community to form  Protects individuals from anomie and alienation  Social glue that binds people together, fosters unity and consensus o Religion provides people with a social identity  Group solidarity is affirmed and enhanced through public rituals o Religion provides social control through the establishment of moral standards of behaviour  Moral community where member socialize to accept certain behaviours and rejects other  Only exits when people share common moral values  Expression of society itself o Religion provides people with sense of purpose and brings meaning to their lives  Comfort in times of crisis o Religion provides social service function  Giving support to people in need  Limitations to Durkheim o Dysfunctional  Religion is reason for conflict, tension an bloodshed between groups o Strict religious traditions  Deny people ability to think for themselves o Analysis of sacred and profane is overly rigid; inseparable o Religions compete with other social institutions that are sources of personal identity o Fails to recognize roles that social class, power and gender play o Very little opportunity for individual agency Conflict Theory  Religion is socially constructed and built upon economic relationships  Diminishes feelings of frustration resulting from forces of alienation  Used by social, political and economic elite to control workers  Marx o Form of social control that dulls pain of oppression for proletariat and prevents seeing the world’s reality o Primary way that bourgeoisie ensures proletariat maintains state of false consciousness and true social self o Religion is illusion that makes pain of oppression bearable and keeps them submissive o Ideological expression of contradictions and tensions present in human relations Chapter 13 - Religion  Study and critique uncovers social relation problems o To be happy, they have to throw off blinds to be able to see o Understood exposing oppressive role of religion wasn’t sufficient enough to alert people to their true ideological interests  Limitations: o Religion can be inspiration behind great social change  Predestination  Calling: one’s work, believed to be an expression of God’s will, particularly if that work brings financial status  Liberation theory: movement by religions fundamentalists who advocate a literal interpretation of the Bible to promote greater social equality Symbolic Interactionist Theory  View religion as important source of rituals and symbols to define people’s perceptions of the social world  Rituals bond group of believers into moral community, influence how they behave and identify themselves o Help reinforce group membership  Remembering (historical connections)  Social bonding  Regulating moral behaviour  Empowerment  Religious Indoctrination and Identity o Andersen and Taylor  3 phase process people undergo while converting to new religion  convert experience events that question themselves and wonder whether there is more to life o open to significant changes in their lives o concludes when initiates enter into new religious organization  incorporate ideas of new group into world views o important to sever all ties to previous lives o will foster dependence by conducting week long workshops/ seminars o “love bombing”; shower with a lot of care and affection  intense interaction with new group o dominated by duties and obligations o little time to reflect and consider changes in their lives o ends when people sacrifice material wealth for the group Feminist Theory  Elizabeth Cady Stanton o Woman’s Bible  Biased against women  Bible was a literary work  Repudiated its divine authority, written by men, clear expression of patriarchal culture  Does not express ideals of liberty, justice and equality for women  Religions portray women as inferior biologically and spiritually to men o Dirty from menstruation and childbirth, subordinates, impulsive, etc  Sihkism advocates women’s influential position Postmodern Theory  Emerged through Enlightenment and grounded into belief that human sciences give rise to meaningful understanding of human condition  Focused on pursuit of truth, reason and social progress  Begins with loss of faith in dreams and aspirations o Belief that all our thinking is contextual and result of negotiated realities from time, place, social class and gender o Emphasize on subjective knowledge an personal experience  Secularization: process which developed societies move away form explanations based on religion to ones based on science, rationality and logic o Increase between economic political and legal systems in contemporary society o Increase in number of secular institutions taking on activities associated with religious institutions o Shift in individuals’ focus from spirituality to day to day experiences o Overall decline in importance of religion in contemporary society Religious Belief Systems Chapter 13 - Religion  E.B Taylor o Cultures naturally evolve from simple, primitive communities to complex states, religion does too o Animism: first stage where supernatural entities are believed to inhabit both living things and inanimate objects o Polytheism: society begins to recognize series of independent supernatural beings or gods  Diffuse polytheism: all gods are equals  Hierarchal polytheism: ranked by importance o Monotheism: when religion identifies with single, all powerful, all knowing God  Civil Religion (secular religion) o Describe a system which sacred symbols are integrated into broader society regardless of individual religious affiliations o Involves intense patriotism, nationalism and reverence Types of Religious Groups New Religious Movement  Most sociologists recognize cult has strong pejorative connotation in Anglo Saxon societies  New religious movement: an informal group without defined structure; generally emerges around authoritarian and charismatic leaders who suppress rational thought to isolate members from larger society  Weber uses charisma o Describe personality attribute that sets some people apart through belief of exceptional powers / qualities seen as supernatural or superhuman o Charismatic leading develops special bond of trust and love for loyalty and obedience o Usually disbands when leader dies Sect  Small religious body, with exclusive or voluntary membership, that is aloof from or hostile to the larger society  Routinzation of charisma o Leadership becomes routine and part of belief system that transcends the lives of any of the leaders o Formed after group breaks away from larger religious group Church  Brings together moral community of believers in formal worship and integrates itself within larger secular world  Have high degree of religious pluralism o System which many religions coexist and often compete with one another for members  Ecclesia: system in which church and state have formalized relationship o Largest formal and most powerful of all religious organizations o Membership ascribed by birth and
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