Marx Weber and Durkheim on Religion Essays

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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…show more content…
According to Marx, religion can be seen as the opiate of the people (Engels, Marx 1955, p.41). Here, Marx is suggesting that just like opium, religion is trying to relieve people of the pain and suffering in their lives. Marx also puts forward the idea that religion is used by its oppressors in order to make people feel better about their lives. Thus, it can be seen that Marx chooses to adopt a negative view of religion. Max Weber can be seen as the only sociologist to place so much scope and emphasis on the subject of religion (Nisbet, p.250). Biographical and textual evidence suggests that biblical religion played a part in shaping and influencing Weber's life and the context of his sociology. Weber's main concern was to attempt to demonstrate that religious ideologies were not mechanically connected to the economic structure of society, however it does shape individuals behavior and actions in everyday life (Swingewood 1984, p.152). Weber also came to several conclusions regarding the remarkable relationship between capitalism and Protestant. According to Weber, the more capitalism had a free hand to alter social distribution, the larger the relationship between capitalism and protestant (1930, p.4). Overall, it can be seen that the three main sociology theorists differ greatly when it comes to ideas regarding to religion.
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