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Chapter 13

SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Power Balance, Resource Mobilization, Scientism

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Lina Samuel

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Religion Chapter 13
Religion is often associated with conflict and division.
Sociology and Religion
"empirical" knowledge is what we can detect through our senses
Science limits its self to what is perceivable and religion maintains that reality includes the non
Marx and Conflict:
Karl Marx thought religion was a human creation.
"Man makes religion; religion does not make man"
being religious is the self consciousness and self esteem of a man who has either not yet gained
himself or lost himself again.
Believed that we can solved undesirable conditions by changing them or reinterpreting them
eg. peasants and slaves can rise up and revolt, OR they can minimize the importance of this
world by looking heavenward, singing spirituals and dreaming of walking on streets of gold.
Religion constitutes the latter response, resulting in people who are economically and politically
deprived redefining reality, rather than changing their oppressive conditions.
Religion soothes the disadvantaged, "opium of the people"
Blinds people to the inequalities at hand and bottling up their creative energies
Socially and financially deprived individuals substitute religious status for social status. (taxi
driver by day, head of temple committee by night)
Those who hold power encourage religious belief among the masses as a subtle tool in the
process of exploiting and subjugating them
Durkheim and Collectivity:
Religions origins are social, people who live in a community share common sentiments and as a
result a collective conscience.
COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE: referring to awareness that a group is more than the sum of its
individual members and the belief that what is being experienced is the supernatural
When they gather together they have a feeling of being in the presence of something that is
beyond themselves and it is experienced by each member.
Experience they feel is so vivid that people have felt the need to label it, "God" is the group
experienced its self

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The experience in real, but it isn't what those involved think it is.
Designating some related objects as sacred and Profane
SACRED and PROFANE: are the two categories by which Durkheim claimed things are classified.
The sacred represents those things that are deemed to warrant profound respect and the
profane encompasses essentially everything else
Eg. Christians have accorded special status to the cross, the Bible, and holy water in contrast to
almost everything else.
Religious beliefs articulate the nature of the sacred and its symbols, and religious rites provides
guidelines as to how people should act in the presence of the sacred.
All groups feel the need to uphold and reaffirm their collective sentiments, people come
together as the "church"
Religion is nourished by social sources
Religion creates and reinforces social solidarity
Collective life is consequently both the source and the product of religion
religion as a "unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things which unite into
one single moral community called a church"
Religion will always have an important "gap filling" role
Weber and Ideas
Religion is largely oriented toward this world
Religious ideas and behavior are frequently evident in everyday conduct
Protestant Ethic can be traced back to the influence of the Protestant Reformation
Ideas represent a person's definition of reality and therefore have the potential to influence
Need to interpret action by understanding the motives of the actor (Verstehen/(understanding)
God conceptions are related to economic, social and political conditions in which people live
MONOTHEISM: belief in one God
The nature of Religion
Religion (functional sense) - what people value most becomes their religion - money, career,
family sports.
problem with religion in functional sense is that if religion is everything, it is also nothing
Religion for social scientific purposes - recognizing that humans develop systems of meaning to
interpret the world
Supernatural referent religions( Christianity, Judaism and Islam) non supernatural referent
science based systems (scientism) political isms (communism and fascism)
HUMANIST PERSPECTIVES: are systems of meaning used to interpret the world that do not have
a supernatural referent (communism and scientism)
RELIGIONS: (religious perspectives) are systems of meaning for interpreting the world that have
a supernatural referent (Christianity and Hinduism)

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Religion is concerned with discovering lifes meaning
Humanist perspectives are concerned with making life meaningful
Religious perspectives suggest that our existence has meaning, proceeding that which we, as
humans decide to give it
Humanist perspectives assume that life has no "ultimate meaning" and therefore focus on going
it meaning
Personal Religiosity
PERSONAL RELIGIOSITY: refers to the level of religious commitment characterizing an individual
indicators to determine the religiosity of a person: identification, membership and attendance
Religious commitment has variety of dimensions
DIMENSIONS OF RELIGIOSITY: are the various facets of religious commitment; Glock and Stark
for example identify four: belief, experience, practice and knowledge
All four of traits listed above are expected of the committed
Canadians exhibit high levels of religious belief, practice, experience and knowledge
8 in 10 Canadians believe in God
7 in 10 maintain that there is life after death
6 in 10 acknowledge that they pray privately at least once a month
5 in 10 think they have experienced the presence of God
50% claim to be committed to Christianity or another religion
Collective Religiosity
personal religiosity is highly dependent on collective religiosity or group support of some kind
COLLECTIVE RELIGIOSITY: in Durkheim's term referring to awareness that a group is more than
the sum of its individual members and the belief that what is being experienced is the
The ideas we tend to hold come from our interaction with other people
Ideas can be traced back to whoever we have been in contact with
ideas are sustained by relationships
The church Sect Typology
Numerically dominant groups - Roman Catholic Church in medieval Europe, the Church of
Smaller groups - broken away from the dominant bodies
CHURCH SECT TYPOLOGY: is a framework, originating with Weber in which religious
organizations are studied in terms of ideal type characteristics
Weber distinguishes between church and sect primariliy on the basis of theology (churches
emphasize works, sects stress faith) and relationship to society (for churches, accommodations;
for sects separation)
sect gradually evolves into a church its self
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