Textbook Notes (362,755)
Canada (158,052)
Sociology (1,479)
SOC101Y1 (470)
Adam Green (15)
Chapter 13

New Society - Sixth Edition - Chapter 13.docx

9 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Adam Green

SOCIOLOGY REVIEW CHAPTER 13: RELIGION INTRODUCTION:  In recent years, religion has received worldwide attention  Religion’s presence and importance is blatant in the conflict, terrorism, and peacemaking efforts in the Middle East  The reality of religion is readily apparent in the tendency of the vast majority of people to continue to identify with a religious tradition  Many early social scientists were convinced that religion’s days were numbered  Through the 1990s, the widespread consensus was that religion’s influence was declining and people in most technologically advanced countries were leaving religion behind  We now know that such observers were wrong  Interest in religion and spirituality is actually on the upswing in many parts of the world, including North America, Russia and Asia  Today, religion is frequently associated with conflict and division; also brings meaning, sustenance and hope to billions SOCIOLOGY AND RELIGION:  A basic rule of science is that what counts as real is what we can detect through our senses (empirical knowledge)  Proponents of religion have asserted that the world we know through the sense is only part of a greater reality that, because of the limitations of sense perception, can only be known through faith  Science and religion are compatible  Science limits itself to what is perceivable and religion maintains that reality includes the non- perceivable  Conflict between the two should only arise when one oversteps its boundaries and invades the other’s territory  Religion cannot overrule science in refuting basic evolutionary claims or dismissing sound medical diagnoses  Science is limited to conclusions about the observable  Sociology consequently suffers from one methodological limitation in studying religion: it cannot probe the supernatural claims that religion so often is about, but sociologists can offer considerable insight  Whether or not religious ideas are true is not as important as the fact that they are believed to be true  If we define things as real, they are real in their consequences THEORETICAL TRADITIONS: 1. MARX: - Believed that religion is a human creation - “man makes religion; religion does not make man” - It has been argued that we can resolve undesirable conditions by either changing them or reinterpreting them - According to him, religion constitutes as a response, resulting in people who are economically and politically deprived redefining reality, rather than changing their oppressive conditions - Religious status is substituted for social status - Marx maintained that those who hold power encourage religious belief among the masses as a tool in the process of exploiting and subjugating them - H.R Niebuhr said that religion helped African Americans to become better slaves - Marx said that historically, society and religion were so intertwined that attacks on feudalism were attacks on the church, while revolutionary social and political doctrines were viewed as theological heresies - Religion was an inadequate salve for a sick society; when the sickness was remedied, there would be no need for the salve 2. DURKHEIM: - Argued that religion’s origin is social - People who live in a community share common sentiments = COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE - when they gather, they have a feeling of being in the presence of something beyond themselves that is experienced by each member, yet is greater than the sum of their individual consciences - the experience is so vivid that people called it “GOD”; the group is experiencing itself - The experience is real, it’s just that it isn’t what those involved think it is - Once people experience it, they designate related objects as sacred and others profane - Religious beliefs articulate the nature of the sacred and its symbols, and religious rites provide guidelines as to how people should act in the presence of the sacred - Because all groups feel the need to uphold and reaffirm their collective sentiments, people come together as a CHURCH - Religion creates and reinforces social solidarity - Collective life is both the source and product of religion - The dominant groups and forms of expression might change, but the social sources remain - There will always be a place for religious explanations - Science is fragmentary and incomplete, advancing too slowly and life cannot wait, so religion will continue to have a “gap-filling” role 3. WEBER: - Had little interest in the question of whether religion is true of false, but focused on how religion is largely oriented toward this world - Religious ideas and behaviour should frequently be evident in everyday conduct - Examined the possibility that the moral tone that characterizes capitalism in the western world (protestant ethic) can be traced back to the influence of the Protestant Reformation - Took the position that ideas represent a person’s definition of reality and therefore have the potential to influence behaviour - Emphasized the need to interpret action by understanding the motives of the actor - Weber embarked on comparative and historical studies of religion and its relationship to social and economic life in China, India and Israel; he noted that god-conceptions are related to the economic, social, and political conditions in which people live (Example: heavenly gods that rule the celestial order have been related to the more abstract problems of death and fate) - The growth of monotheism is related to goals of political unification - His approach is typical in contemporary studies of religion THE NATURE OF RELIGION:  Many people use religion in a functional sense: what people most value becomes their religion; but if everything is religion, then it is nothing  C. Glock and R. Stark pointed out that, in defining religion for social scientific purposes, we should begin by recognizing that humans develop systems of meaning to interpret the world  Two perspectives: 1) HUMANIST PERSPECTIVES = concerned with making life meaningful; assume that life has no ultimate meaning and therefore focus on giving it meaning 2) RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES = concerned with discovering life’s meaning; suggest that our existence has meaning, preceding that which humans decide to give it TYPES OF RELIGIOSITY: A. PERSONAL - = refers to the level of religious commitment characterizing an individual - Much of the early research used three basic indicators to determine the religiosity of a person: identification, membership and attendance – but tell us very little about a person’s actual commitment to his or her faith - Since the 60s, social scientists have responded to the limitations of these measures by viewing religious commitment as having a variety of dimensions - Stark and Glock suggested that the religions of the world typically expect their most devoted followers to hold key beliefs, engage in certain practices, have supernatural experiences, and be aware of the central tenets of their faiths = DIMENSIONS OF RELIGIOSITY - It is not enough to believe or practice or experience or know, all four traits are expected of the commitment - On the surface, Canadians seem to be fairly religious people - Although 50% claim to be committed to a religion, less than half demonstrate the belief, practice, experience and knowledge - Pollsters remind us that Americans are more religious than Canadians - S. Reimer argues that it is easier to be highly committed in the American religious environment than it is in Canada, higher levels of religiosity in the United States have more to do with cultural supports for religiosity than with deeper religious conviction B. COLLECTIVE - = religious commitment as manifested in and through religious groups - It is key to the creation and sustenance of personal religiosity - Ideas are sustained by relationships - Christian settings have recognized two kinds of organizations: 1) there are numerically dominant groupings such as Roman Catholic, 2) smaller groups have broken away from the dominant bodies (Example: Roman Catholic  Protestant  Church of England  Methodists  Salvation Army) - From this pattern of dominant groups and breakaway groups, sociologists who try to make sense of religious groups developed an analytical scheme called the CHURCH- SECT TYPOLOGY; the framework attempts to describe central characteristics of these two types of organizations and accounts for the origin and development - Weber distinguished between church and sect primarily on the basis of theology (churches emphasizes works, sects stress faith) and relationship to society (churches accommodate within society, sects advocate separation) - Initially a spinoff from an established church, the sect gradually evolves into a church itself - The sect at first is characterized by spontaneity and enthusiasm and these traits eventually give away to institutionalization - Religious organizations are no different than other social organizations - Stark made a model for understanding religion, by looking at religions as firms or companies competing for market share - Despite the fact that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists all have worldwide roots, none have developed official international or national structures that oversee their businesses - Large numbers of other religions operate as privately owned companies - A majority of those involved in religion are following parental footsteps - Congregations frequently compete with one another for members and staff - Groups tend to build structures as lavish as their resources will permit, which make it difficult for other congregations to compete - Other congregations expand their services and personnel in keeping with their economic means - A point of tension involves maintaining integrity while providing products that attract customers - The goals of local religious groups vary by congregation and members and appear to be in conflict - Formal goals derive from re
More Less

Related notes for SOC101Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.