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Chapter 13

Religion Chapter 13.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Lina Samuel

Religion Chapter 13 Introduction  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 perceivable. THEORETICAL TRADITIONS: 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  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 behaviour.  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)  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 supernatural  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 England  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  sec characterized by spontaneity and enthusiasm, but later becomes routine and institionalized Organizational Approaches  religious organizations aren't that different from social groups  religious groups are seen as firms or companies competing for market share  Members: - Vast majority of those involved are following parental footsteps - new additions to any congregation are active members who are on the move, or people who are coming to Canada from another country - congregations often compete with one another for members and staff - have better physical facilities, religious meeting places become important centres for social activity - congregations like businesses expand their services and personnel to keep up with their economic means  Goals: - formal goals derived from religious doctrines, such spiritual growth exist in tension with survival goals - creating comfort - how to satisfy the needs of 'clientele' while reaching out to new people  Norms, Roles and Sanctions: - establish norms for what has to be done and assign roles for their members to play - 2 human resource problems reasons - (1) they are top heavy with men and often inadequately tap the resources of women - (2) groups typically rely on volunteers to carry out key roles  Success: - "the numerical bottom lines" of religious groups and focus on indicators of success which are attendance, membership and finances  The Canadian Situation - many Canadians have a religious preference - exaggeration to think of Canada as a highly diversified religious mosaic Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists have doubled in its size - Christian groups continue to grow, and benefit from intermarital marriages "religious defection" The sources of religion  personal and societal factors also play critically important roles in determining who embraces religion and religious groups and who doesn't Individual centred explanations:  three dominant person centred explanations of religious commitment  Reflection - desire to comprehend reality is widespread -reflection on the meaning of existence people have commonly concluded that life has a supernatural dimension - product of inner compulsion to understand the world as a meaningful cosmos and take up a position toward it -people reflect on life's big questions  Socialization: - religious commitment as the product of learning - s0cialization factors - personal religiosity has social origins -social pressures also play into religious group involvement -socialization appears to be a necessary but not a sufficient cause of religiosity  Deprivation: - devout are drawn primarily from the ranks of society's deprived or disadvantaged - religion provides them with compensation - 5 types of deprivation are predominant in the rise and development of religious and secular movements (economic, social, organismic *physical, mental*, psychic and ethical) -first three types of deprivation are self explanatory - Psychic deprivation refers to the lack of a meaningful system of values and ethical deprivation refers to having values that are in conflict with those dominant in a society - objective indicators such as income, health and social relationships did not find deprivation to be a particularly good predictor of broad religious participation -deprivation does not appear to be systematically associated with religious commitment Structure Centred Explanations  religious commitment is strongly influenced by the broader national, regional and group contexts in which people find themselves  DENOMINATIONALISM: refers to the tendency for a wide variety of protestant religious groups to come into being seemingly reflecting variations not only in theology but also and perhaps primarily in social characteristics  SECULARIZATION THESIS: holds that religion as it has been traditionally known is continually declining, resulting in a loss of religious authority, society and individually as well as changes in religious organizations themselves  PERSISTENCE THESIS: is the assertion that religion will continue to have a significant place in the modern world, because it has never actually declined or because people continue to have interests and needs that only religion can satisfy The consequences of Religion  Personal consequences - people with formal religious affiliations are more anxious than others -believe
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