Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist and philosopher. One of his most prominent interests as a scholar was religion. In particular, the manner in which religion has developed throughout the history of the human race. While Durkheim wrote a good deal on religion, perhaps his most important work on religion was written in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. In this work, Durkheim examines Australian Totem religious as fundamental forms of the human religious experience. His ideas regarding religion are largely based off of his studies of Australian totemism. Durkheim used his studies of this particular religion to argue that religion is simply a worship of society in of itself. This is where Durkheim’s theories are at their most …show more content…
In an application to religion, the followers of the religion worship the best attributes of society that they want to see in themselves. I find this analysis of religion fascinating. Religion is the most complex human social behavior. There does not seem to be any real function to the worship of other worldly beings or some sore of supernatural force. Through Durkheim, I am able to understand the function of these behaviors. This is the most important and valuable aspect of Durkheim’s work. While many scholars had focussed on the individual function of religion, Durkheim looked to the true nature of religion as a societal act. Religion, in most cases, is a communal and social behavior that serves as a way to bring human beings together for what they believe to be a purpose greater than themselves. Durkheim is able to shed light on the purpose of these communal behaviors and the importance of them to the tribal nature of humanity. Durkheim’s viewed religion in terms of a separation of the sacred from otherwise normal, day to day occurrences or objects. This defining characteristic of religion by Durkheim helped me to understand religion from a more broad perspective. Durkheim writes that, “The real characteristic of religious phenomena is that they always suppose a bipartite division of the whole universe, known and knowable, into to classes which embrace all that exists, but which radically exclude each other”
Durkheim defines religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”. He says all societies
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.
Again, in EFRL, Durkheim shows religiosity from a sociological standpoint in which “individual consciousness” is combined with “common consciousness.” To look at it another way, individuals use signs and symbols to interpret and/or explain their feelings. If the group all uses the same signs and symbols, it then becomes the symbol or representation of the group’s sacredness. Even if the individual is no longer part of the collective society, he still holds the sacredness of the signs/symbols to the same high standard, and he does this by way of festivals, ceremonies, etc.
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.
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
In this essay we will discuss the importance of religion in society. We will attempt to explain why societies have religions and what functions their belief system has for them. We will also ask if these functions are now out-dated and if religions have any meaningful function in today's world or are they just stained glass windows into a bygone era? 'Religion' can be defined by two main groupings. 'The inclusive definition' covers all topics and subjects of a persons life including, not only, their belief in a deity but also their belief and belongingness to music, sport and any other interests the person may hold. 'The exclusive definition' refers to just their belief system regarding a 'supra-human' (Browne 2005, p. 311). It is mainly
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.
In order to combat anomie Durkheim asserts that people turn to religion. Religion for Durkheim was not divinely inspired but was simply a set of collective beliefs that shaped norms and values, norms and values that shaped
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
Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are two prominent philosophers whose theories unequivocally differed on countless themes. The outlooks of Durkheim and Weber contrast however, their general message in which they attempt to convey are of similar ideologies. When examining Durkheim and the concept of sacred and profane, one would see how it parallels with Weber’s notion of enchantment and disenchantment. Their stances on religion correspond with each other and despite their distinct conceptual frameworks and differing perspectives, Durkheim and Weber both offer profound contributions to the concepts of religion and modernity.
Because Durkheim’s main interest was the ways in which society is bound together, he investigated the role and the origin of religion in various communities. He believed that a simpler society has a simpler religion. Durkheim claims that, “a religion as closely connected to a social system surpassing all others in simplicity may well be regarded as the most elementary religion we can possibly know” (Ritzer, 91). For instance Durkheim argues that totemism a religious system in which animal figures are regarded as sacred is among the simplest religious forms in the world. The totemic animal, Durkheim believed, was the original focus of religious activity because it was the emblem for a social group, “the clan” (Ritzer, 91). He thought the model for the relationships between people and the supernatural was similar to the relationship between individuals and the community. For him the function of religion was to make people willing to put the interests of society ahead of their desires. He also believed religion is an important part of society and that the functions of religion are to maintain the equilibrium in the society.
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
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
In order to truly assess the legitimacy of Durkheim 's functionalist definition of religion, his notion of Social facts, (upon which his theory is constructed) must be examined. Durkheim advocated that amongst the reputable fields of biology, psychology and history, Sociology also warranted a specific focus. It was, for him: a 'sui generis ' "something that had to be explained on its own terms". Sociology was not, for Durkheim, a field that should be susceptible to overlapping subject matter: he believed that there existed concrete social facts recognisable "by the power of eternal coercion" which they are "capable of exercising over individuals". This claim is an imperative one because it is the platform on which his functionalist