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.
This theory stats that society is structured in a way that maintains its stability (Schaefer, Richard T, 2009, pg 14) How can one use this theory to look at religion? A famous functionalist Emile Durkheim divided the world in to the sacred which holds important significance such as a cross, and the profane which is just an ordinary object that holds no significance (Stevens, William J, 2008). According to William J Stevens, while Durkheim had removed God from religion, he still felt it was a positive force that could unite a society under similar beliefs and values (Stevens, William J, 2008). Bronislaw Malinowski found that religion can perform a function of creating societal solidarity due to religion being a psychological response to the needs of society during times of anxiety (Stevens, William J, 2008). Malinowski also stated that religion can provide security when one is faced with situations that may be out of their control (Stevens, William J, 2008). Talcott Parsons added to this by stating that religion makes the values of a society legitimate (Stevens, William J, 2008). This could in turn also cause conflict amongst society which would serve as a dysfunction such as the religions in the United States creating a battle against the liberal secular movement (Schaefer, Richard T, 2009, pg 337).
Emile Durkhiem, a French sociologist, Developed the theory of "Functionalism". Functionalism is the theory that all aspects of a society serve a function and all are necessary for the overall stability of that society. Durkheim (1912) said that all societies are separated into the profane and sacred and that religion is a combined structure consisting of beliefs and practices which are associated to sacred items. In Durkhiems theory of functionalism regarding religion, there are three major functions for it in society. Durkhiem believes religion helps provide social cohesion, Social control, and that religion offers meaning and purpose. According to Durkhiem religion provides social cohesion through
In this essay I will be looking at the theories of Edward Burnett Tylor and Émile Durkheim, and comparing them to see which theory I think gives a better explanation about what religion is, or whether religion is actually definable. On the one hand we have Tylor’s theory that tells us that religion is belief in spiritual beings and that religion is just a step on the way to reaching full evolutionary potential. Durkheim’s theory, however, says that religion is very much a social aspect of life, and something can only be religious or “sacred” if it is something public (Durkheim 1965:52). Ultimately these theories do not give us an outright explanation about what ‘religion’ is, but there are aspects of the theory that can be used to gain an understanding or idea.
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote: “Religion is the institutional manifestation of feeling and believing in something beyond yourself” (Kelley 2016). Twelve weeks later, I consider this definition incomplete and problematic; nevertheless, it reveals how religious thinkers such as James Frazer, Emile Durkheim, William James, Mircea Eliade, Jeffrey Kripal, and Bruce Lincoln infiltrate our quotidian definitions of religion. In this paper, I hope to develop a new conception of religion, recognizing the impact of such historical thinkers on personal conclusions. In other words, I hope to show that we are
Along with Marx and Weber, Durkheim is considered one of the founding members of modern sociology. He is also credited with making sociology a science through his application of scientific and empirical research. Durkheim believed that sociology should be seen as a science separate from other sciences such as psychology, by studying “social facts” objectively as things. (Kiviston, 2011)
Durkheim defines religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”. He says all societies
Through ethnographic research, Durkheim can explain the fundamentals of religion and its relation to society. We are not born with the innate knowledge of structural situations or cultural effects that occur within a society. Nor, are we aware of the effects our behaviors and attitudes have on a society. Durkheim’s worked untimely explained how the moral realm functioned by focusing on primitive religion. Religious ceremonies closely resemble social life, containing highly routined acts. The essential elements of religion include rites which are expressed by rituals and practice. Rituals unite social groups regardless of individual differences, which are found in both modern and traditional societies because rituals are a part of both. Durkheim noted, to have a
Conversely, according to (Turner 23-109), Durkheim points out that religion is part and parcel of the society and that each society has religion. Emile Durkheim’s purpose was to assess the connection between particular religions in various cultures, and finding a common cause. Basically, he wanted to comprehend the three major aspects of religion; that is the empirical together with the social and the spirituality components. His definition of religion is that; it is a joining arrangement of beliefs together with practices in relation to sacred things. According to him, it is religion that establishes the contemporary society as
Émile Durkheim and Mircea Eliade have dissimilar understandings of religion. Emile Durkheim did not have an interest in a belief system or the cognitive approach. He dismissed the study of how particular beliefs lead to certain practices and adopted a functionalist approach. He does not acknowledge the belief in God, rather focuses on what religion does within society. He believed that individuals encompassed a more pure form and focused on the essential structure of religion. His theory of totemism developed, which centers around the idea that the subject of religion is to bring people together, and to ultimately result in social cohesion. He metaphorically relates this to when people in a community rally around the totem. Furthermore, making the totem represent the sacred. Durkheim then understands that the totem will eventually develop into a spirit, and ultimately into a ‘God’ or spiritual form. Moreover, connecting a society on a metaphysical level. This concept does not center around a belief system, rather on social cohesion.
The crux of Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life lies in the concept of collective effervescence, or the feelings of mutually shared emotions. Through a hermeneutical approach, Durkheim investigates the reflexiveness of social organization, the balance between form and content, and the immense cooperation in collective representations. In his work, society is the framework of humanity and gives it meaning, whereas religion acts as the tool to explain it. Since society existed prior to the individual, the collective mind must be understood before the concept of the individual can be grasped. However, one component seems missing from his social theory – what underlies society in terms of rituals and rites? Only when this
Similarly to Weber, Durkheim believed that religion plays an integral part in society. He defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things… beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church...” (Durkheim EF: 47). This functional definition describes what Durkheim believes what role religion plays in contemporary society: it unities it. He analyzed religion within the context of the entire society and recognized its influence on people’s thoughts and behaviors. Durkheim was interested in the communal bonds forged by participating in religious activities and stressed the importance of the communal aspect of religion.
According to author Randall Collins, Emile Durkheim has been deemed sociologies most famous representative (Collins, The Durkheimian Tradition, 211.) The Durkeimian Tradition is “sociology’s most original and unusual set of ideas but revolutionary in the same sense ” (Collins, 211). Durkheim contributed an insightful view on the role of religion and how “God is the symbol of the society and its moral power over individuals” (Collins, 211.) By proving that “religion is the moral foundation of society” simply shows the dire need of religion in order to live. As a result of following any religion comes a consistent ritual, no matter what steps it consists of and a link to social interaction. According to Durkheim, rituals are instrumental in the process of providing concepts or ideas that directly echo the structure of society (Collins, 212.) Durkeim’s original beliefs still apply to the structure of society today. Though it may not be solely focused on religion, people identify themselves within other social groups. I myself identify to be apart of a social group with my involvement in the women’s basketball team at Hofstra. Like other student-athletes, there is an obvious distinction of athletes around campus and noticeable segregation between athletes and regular students. Durkheim discussed rituals that took place amongst those who followed a religion, and like that social group; my team performs
Moreover, Durkheim compares religion to society. He says that society is the cause of the unique sensations of the religious experiences, so called “sui generis” (Ritzer, 84). This concept
A religion can be seen as a unified system of beliefs and practices which are relative to sacred things and beliefs (Giddens 1972, p.224). It can shape ones thoughts and feelings and gives people a sense of hope and something to believe in. All three main sociologist writers Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim offer different perspectives on religion and how important it is to society. Some of the theorists chose to have a positive view whilst others argue the unimportance of religion. This essay attempts to discover which theorist has the most accurate perspective of religion in modern times. This is done by firstly explaining the basic ideas regarding to religion put forward by Marx, Weber and Durkheim. Then both Marx's and