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SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes -Symbolic Interactionism, Class Conflict, Capital Accumulation

14 Pages
61 Views
Winter 2011

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA02H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Religion
RELIGION AND SOCIETY
Shiva is the ritual week of mourning following the death of a Jew.
Religion is the common human response to the fact that we all stand at the edge of
an abyss. It helps us cope with the terrifying fact that we must die. If offers us
immortality, the promise of better times to come, and the security of benevolent
spirits who look over us. It provides the meaning and purpose in a world that might
otherwise seem cruel and senseless.
The motivation for religion may be psychological.
The content and intensity of our religious beliefs, and the form and frequency of our
religious practices, are influenced by the structure of society and our place in it.
Although spirituality is evidently strong, participation in formal religious
observance is less frequent than in the past.
The scope of religious authority has also declined in Canada and many other parts of
the world. Religion governs fewer aspects of life than it used to.
Canadians expect that religion can help them deal with only a restricted range of
spiritual issues.
The level of participation in religious services and practices is on the rise.
Relatively intense, demanding fundamentalist and conservative religious traditions
are gaining strength as more liberal traditions become less appealing.
THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
Durkheim, Functionalism, and the Problem of Order
Hockey is Canadas national religion because it draws a huge audience.
It also generates a sense of what Durkheim would have called collective
effervescence.
www.notesolution.com
oExcites us by making us feel part of something larger than we are.
Durkheim said that when people live together, they come to share common
sentiments and values. These common sentiments and values form a collective
conscience that is larger than any individuals.
The profane refers to the secular, everyday world.
The sacred refers to the religious, transcendent world.
Totems are objects that symbolize the sacred.
Rituals in Durkheims usage are public practices designed to connect people to the
sacred.
Durkheims theory of suicide predicts a lower suicide rate when social solidarity
increases and a higher suicide rate when social solidarity decreases.
The Stanley Cup playoffs may fairly be regarded as a sacred event in Durkheims
terms.
Marx, Conflict, and Religion as a Prop for Inequality
Durkheims theory of religion is a functionalist account that offers useful insights
into the role of religion in society.
Conflict theorists have lodged two main criticisms against it:
oIt overemphasizes religions role in maintaining social cohesion. Religion
often incites social conflict.
oWhen religion does increase social cohesion, it often reinforces social
inequality. Durkheim ignored that issue, too.
It was Marx who first stressed how religion often tranquilizes the underprivileged
into accepting their lot in life.
According to Marx, religion diminishes class conflict; he called religion the opium of
the people.
In medieval and early modern Europe, Christianity promoted the view that the
Almighty ordains social inequality.
In Russia and other Slavic languages, the words for rich (bogati) and God (bog) have
www.notesolution.com
the same root.
oWealth is God-given and perhaps even that it makes the wealthy godlike.
The Hindu scriptures say that the highest caste sprang from the lips of the supreme
creator, the next highest caste from his shoulders, the next highest from his thighs,
and the lowest, polluted caste from his feet.
Quran suggests that social inequality is due to the will of Allah.
In Canada today, most people celebrate the alleged absence of social hierarchy.
A civil religion is a set of quasi-religious beliefs and practices that bind a population
together and justify its way of life.
When we think of Canada as a land opportunity, a meritocracy in which everyone
can achieve success, we are giving voice to Canadas civil religion.
Our civil religion may help us divert attention from the many inequalities that
persist in Canadian society.
Religion can sometimes promote conflict and change.
Religion can maintain social order under some circumstances, as Durkheim said.
When it does so, however, it often reinforces social inequality, as Marx argued.
Moreover, under other circumstances religion can promote social conflict.
Weber, Social Change, and Symbolic Interaction
If Durkheim highlighted the way religion contributes to social order, Max Weber
stressed the way religion can contribute to social change.
Weber captured the core of this argument in a memorable image: if history is like a
train, pushed along its tracks by economic and political interests, then religious
ideas are like railroad switches, determining exactly which tracks the train will
follow.
Like Marx, Weber was interested in explaining the rise of modern capitalism. Again
like Marx, he was prepared to recognize the fundamental importance of the
economic factor in his explanation.
Webers focus on the worldly significance of the meaning people attach to religious
ideas makes him a forerunner of the symbolic interactionist tradition.
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Religion RELIGION AND SOCIETY Shiva is the ritual week of mourning following the death of a Jew. Religion is the common human response to the fact that we all stand at the edge of an abyss. It helps us cope with the terrifying fact that we must die. If offers us immortality, the promise of better times to come, and the security of benevolent spirits who look over us. It provides the meaning and purpose in a world that might otherwise seem cruel and senseless. The motivation for religion may be psychological. The content and intensity of our religious beliefs, and the form and frequency of our religious practices, are influenced by the structure of society and our place in it. Although spirituality is evidently strong, participation in formal religious observance is less frequent than in the past. The scope of religious authority has also declined in Canada and many other parts of the world. Religion governs fewer aspects of life than it used to. Canadians expect that religion can help them deal with only a restricted range of spiritual issues. The level of participation in religious services and practices is on the rise. Relatively intense, demanding fundamentalist and conservative religious traditions are gaining strength as more liberal traditions become less appealing. THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION Durkheim, Functionalism, and the Problem of Order Hockey is Canadas national religion because it draws a huge audience. It also generates a sense of what Durkheim would have called collective effervescence. www.notesolution.com o Excites us by making us feel part of something larger than we are. Durkheim said that when people live together, they come to share common sentiments and values. These common sentiments and values form a collective conscience that is larger than any individuals. The profane refers to the secular, everyday world. The sacred refers to the religious, transcendent world. Totems are objects that symbolize the sacred. Rituals in Durkheims usage are public practices designed to connect people to the sacred. Durkheims theory of suicide predicts a lower suicide rate when social solidarity increases and a higher suicide rate when social solidarity decreases. The Stanley Cup playoffs may fairly be regarded as a sacred event in Durkheims terms. Marx, Conflict, and Religion as a Prop for Inequality Durkheims theory of religion is a functionalist account that offers useful insights into the role of religion in society. Conflict theorists have lodged two main criticisms against it: o Itoveremphasizes religions role in maintaining social cohesion. Religion often incites social conflict. o When religion does increase social cohesion, it often reinforces social inequality. Durkheim ignored that issue, too. It was Marx who first stressed how religion often tranquilizes the underprivileged into accepting their lot in life. According to Marx, religion diminishes class conflict; he called religion the opium of the people. In medieval and early modern Europe, Christianity promoted the view that the Almighty ordains social inequality. In Russia and other Slavic languages, the words for rich (bogati) and God (bog) have www.notesolution.com
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