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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 - Religion and Society

9 Pages
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA02H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Religion and Society
Theoretical Approaches to the Sociology of Religion
Durkheim, Functionalism, and the Problem of Order
Apart from drawing a huge audience, the Stanley Cup playoffs generates a sense of
what Durkheim would have called collective effervescence.
oThe Stanley Cup makes us feel part of something larger than we are.
oPeople enjoy sharing the sentiments and values of a larger collective. They
banish thoughts of their own mortality. They gain a glimpse of eternity as
they immerse themselves in institutions that will outlast them and athletic
feats that people will remember for generations to come.
Durkheim said that when people live together, they come to share common
sentiments and values that form a collective conscience that is larger than any
individuals.
We experience the collective conscience directly, which causes us to distinguish the
secular, every day world of the profane from the religious, transcendent world of the
sacred.
We designate certain objects as symbolizing the saved, known as totems.
We invent certain public practices to connect us with the sacred, known as rituals.
The effect of rituals and of religion as a whole is reinforcing social solidarity.
These groups, institutions, and ideas all transcend us.
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:
oIt overemphasized religions role in maintain social cohesion; in reality,
religion often incites social conflict
oWhen religion does increase social cohesion, it often reinforces social conflict
Marx first stressed how religion often tranquilizes the underprivileged into
accepting their lot in life.
www.notesolution.com
Religion diminished class conflict; the opium of the people.
Civil religion: a set of quasi-religious beliefs and practices that binds the
population together and justifies it way of life.
oMay also help divert attention from the many inequalities that persist in
Canadian society.
Religion can maintain social order under some circumstances, as Durkheim said.
When it does so, however, it often reinforces social inequality, as Marx argued.
Weber, Social Change, and Symbolic Interaction
Max Weber stressed the way religion can contribute to social change.
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.
*related to the MSL reading which is Webers short book The Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism.
Weber was interested in explaining the rise of modern capitalism.
Webers focus on the worldly significance of the meanings people attach to religious
ideas make him a forerunner of the symbolic interactionist tradition.
What promoted vigorous capitalist development in non-Catholic Europe and North
America was a combination of:
oFavourable economic conditions
oThe spread of certain moral values by the protestant reformers of the 16th
century and their followers
Followers of the Protestant theologian John Calvin stressed the need to engage in
intense world activity and to display industry, punctuality, and thriftiness in their
everyday life.
Protestant ethic: people could reduce their religious doubts and ensure a state of
grace by working diligently and living simply.
oHad wholly unexpected economic consequences
oEarly capitalist enterprise grew most strongly
www.notesolution.com
Protestantism was constructed on the foundation of two relatively rational religions:
oJudaism and Christianity their followers abstained from magic
oThey engaged in legalistic interpretation of the holy writ.
Two problems confronted Webers argument:
oThe correlation between the Protestant ethic and the strength of capitalist
development is weaker than Weber thought
oWebers followers have not always applied the Protestant ethics thesis as
carefully as weber did.
Feminism and Religious Leadership
Most of todays religious traditions were shaped in agricultural societies that
subordinated women to their husbands and fathers
The ordination of women occurred sporadically among protestant North Americans
in the 19
th century.\
Feminization is already underway but contracts between religious sectors are
probably more likely than any sort of uniform change.
The Rise, Decline, and Partial Revival of Religion
Secularization
Weber remarked on how the world has become thoroughly disenchanted.
He said that scientific and other forms of rationalism were replacing religious
authority.
Secularization: religious institutions, actions, and consciousness are unlikely to
disappear, but they are certainly on the decline worldwide.
Religious Revival
Accumulated survey evidence showed that religion was not in an advanced state of
decay.
Both the history and the national identity of Canada are indelibly imprinted with
the mark of religion.
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Religion and Society Theoretical Approaches to the Sociology of Religion Durkheim, Functionalism, and the Problem of Order Apart from drawing a huge audience, the Stanley Cup playoffs generates a sense of what Durkheim would have called collective effervescence. o The Stanley Cup makes us feel part of something larger than we are. o People enjoy sharing the sentiments and values of a larger collective. They banish thoughts of their own mortality. They gain a glimpse of eternity as they immerse themselves in institutions that will outlast them and athletic feats that people will remember for generations to come. Durkheim said that when people live together, they come to share common sentiments and values that form a collective conscience that is larger than any individuals. We experience the collective conscience directly, which causes us to distinguish the secular, every day world of the profane from the religious, transcendent world of the sacred. We designate certain objects as symbolizing the saved, known as totems. We invent certain public practices to connect us with the sacred, known as rituals. The effect of rituals and of religion as a whole is reinforcing social solidarity. These groups, institutions, and ideas all transcend us. 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: o It overemphasized religions role in maintain social cohesion; in reality, religion often incites social conflict o When religion does increase social cohesion, it often reinforces social conflict Marx first stressed how religion often tranquilizes the underprivileged into accepting their lot in life. www.notesolution.com
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