Durkheim : Society And Religion

1812 Words Sep 12th, 2016 8 Pages
Durkheim: Society and Religion
As I read Émile Durkheim’s classic piece, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, I experienced a whirlwind of thoughts, expressing agreement, disagreement, and complete puzzlement over the details of his logic and conclusions. As far as my essay goes, I will attempt to put these thoughts in a neat, coherent order like the one mentioned above.
For me, coming from a background in sociology, the concept of collective consciousness seems natural. If society is composed of various social institutions that were shaped, are shaped, and will be shaped by the peoples participating in them, it only makes sense that this idea of shared consciousness would explain the institutional formation of religion with its sacred rites, beliefs, and symbols. While I am not a fan of how he chose ‘Church’ as his specific word to define the social organization involved with religion, for its basis is rather ethnocentric, the definition he ascribes to the religious social body is appropriate. According to Durkheim, a ‘Church’ is “a society whose members are united because they imagine the sacred world and its relations with the profane world in the same way, and because they translate this common representation into identical practices” (41). Similarly, he later describes this ‘Church’ as “one single moral community” and that “it conveys the notion that religion must be an eminently collective thing” (44). Durkheim’s sole focus of his definition revolves around…
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