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Canada (158,147)
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SOC101Y1 (470)
Chapter 7

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University of Toronto St. George
Margaret Gassanov;

Chapter 7- Religion • Religion’s influence is not declining as thought in 1960s • Terrorist attacks, conflicts, etc reminds us that religion is alive, potentially a source of division and something that people seek solace, meaning and hope • Science- what is perceivable; religion- non-perceivable • Sociology doesn’t study whether religion is true, but that they are believed to be true and the consequences of that on individual and social life • Karl Marx o Religion is human creation o Compensates people who are economically deprived o Inclination of people to reinterpret rather than change their oppressive conditions o Religion – explosive tensions of society o Society and religion- intertwined o Attacks on society – attacks on religion o Religion: inadequate slave for sick society (binds people) • Durkheim o Atheist and anticlerical o Scientific understanding of society has potential to raise quality of social life to utopian heights o Collective conscience: awareness of group being more than sum of individual members, and believing what is experienced is the supernatural o When religion experience an alleged supernatural reality, objects become (sacred: deemed to warrant profound respect or profane: everything else) o Creates and reinforces social solidarity o Collective life is source and product of religion o Religion: a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things which unite into one single moral community called a Church) o Groups need to reaffirm collective sentiments, therefore come together as church o Decline of traditional Christianity, but social sources that give rise to religion will remain o “gap filling” – religion explanation, science is incomplete • Weber o Capitalism, therefore debated with Marx o religion has supernatural component and is largely oriented toward this world o Therefore religion ideas and behavior should frequently be evident in everyday conduct o Protestant ethic (capitalistic) can be traced back to influence of Protestant Reformation o Placing oneself in roles of those being studied, then can understand motives of actor and see how ones ideas influence behavior o Comparative study of religion o Study of diverse societies lets us see culture’s influence on religion o Monotheism: belief of one god – relates to goals of political unification o Religious organization o Routinization- people following transforms into a permanent congregation • Charles Glock and Rodney Stark (1965)- humans develop systems of meaning to interpret the world -> religions: relgious perspectives • Others with science based system or political “isms” (communism) do not have supernatural referent -> humanistic perspectives: human centered • Religion- discovering life’s meaning, humanistic- making life meaningful • Personal religiosity: level of religious commitment characterizing an individual • 3 basic indicators: identification, membership, attendance • Stark and Glock (1968)- dimensions of religiosity: belif, practice, experience and knowledge components of commitment of religion • Project Canada national surveys (1975)- religiosity in country- Canadians are not strongly committed to traditional expressions of religion • Collective religiosity: religious commitment as manifested in and through religious groups; key to creation and sustenance of personal religiosity • Ideas we hold are from interaction with people, therefore to retain ideas we must continue to be endorsed – therefore argues involvement in religious groups have to exist • 2 main kinds of organizations (based on Christian settings) o Dominant groups (roman catholic church) o Break away groups (protestant groups that broke away from roman catholic church) • Church- sect typology: framework originating with Weber, in which religious organizations are studied in terms of ideal-type, church, and sect characteristics • Sect: a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith • Distinguished between church and sect based on theology and relationship to society • Sects initially spin off from established church, then evolves into church itself • Analyzing religious groups by organizational approaches used in studying social organizations • Basic features: 1) nature and sources of members 2) formal and informal goals 3) norms and roles established to accomplish purposes 4) sanctions used to ensure that norms are followed and roles are played 5) success that groups experience in pursuing their goals • Membership of religious groups are involved in following parents’ footsteps (95%) • Declined participation because people who move don’t become involved with congregation after arriving in their new settings • Groups compete for members- one area is leadership • Also compete in physical resources and range of services (megachurches with worship and educational opportunities- nicely decorated environments) • Try to attract to people but also maintain integrity- favor the least religious • Conscious goals often have conflicts with unconscious goals • Glock, Ringer, and Babbie (1967)- churches have difficulty in reconciling comfort function with prophetical (challenge) function (e.g. United church of Canada- homosexuals eligible for ordination as ministers-> lost in members) • Sometimes more consensus about goals than religious groups appreciate • Groups achieve their goals by establishing norms for thought ad actions and roles for members to play • Many groups rely on volunteers, therefore difficult to execute goals in norms, roles, communication, social control pattern of efficient organizations • Researchers use “numerical bottom lines” to measure success of religious groups (attendance, membership, finances) • Many faced decrease in attendance and membership in early 1990s • Size of group depends on birth and mortality factors- because ned to replace old members • Dominant players would soon be Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants • Islam, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist growth in recent years due to immigration from Asian regions • Exaggeration that Canada is highly diversified religious mosaic • 1/5 people attend services, 30% belong to churches • Gallup poll findings show that there has been a considerable decline in church attendance since 1940s in Canada • Reversal pattern of youth attendance- suggests maybe renaissance of religion in Canada • Individual and societal factors play important role in people to embrace religion and religious groups in additions to organizational activity Sources of Religion • Individual centered explanations of religiosity o Reflection  Desire to comprehend reality  Life has supernatural, “transempirical” dimension  Weber- religion- product of inner compulsion to understand world as meaningful cosmos and take up a position toward it”  80% of people reflect on big questions of life  Reflection gives religion to respond, but less than 1/3 Canadians who raise questions are religiously committed o Socialization  Product of learning  Religious people have been exposed to social environments that are positive toward religion  Accommodation to social pressures (
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