Essay on The Role of Religion in Society

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The Role of Religion in Society

The role of religion in society is definately a dynamic one. The relationship between both religion and society is always changing. Religion effects different societies in different ways and different forms, causing the forms of society to change according to a change in religion. Religion can be a driving force in society, but as a reactionary rather than in a radical way.

Functionalism

Functionalists believe that religion maintains social solidarity and value consensus amongst a society's population and this helps maintain the well-being of society. In his Elementory Forms Of Religious Life, Durkheim argues that social life could only exist if values were
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When religion fails to perform this action, new religions form.

Durkheim claimed Nationalism and Communism were the new religions of the industrial society. They took over from Christianity but performed the same functions.

Functionalists do not say that Religion doesn't change. its form certainly does. Parsons believed that religion was in differentiation, but what does not change is the function of religion in society and therefore supports the status quo. The culture of a particular political movement is parralelled with the collectivity of religious movements, ie, rituals like flag waving and protest are a collective sign of respect for their sacred symbol (weather it be religious or political). Consequently, religion is in any form, is a neccessary and essential feature of society.

Criticisms of the Functionalist view on the Role of Religion

Firstly, Elementory Forms of Religious Life was based on bad and second-hand anthropology. Durkheim seemed to misunderstand both Totenism and the Aboriginal tribes on which his study was based. Durkheim's analysis was not applicable to societies of cultural diversity.

The idea that religion is the worshipping of society has been criticised by many, as people who worship a God do not always look at society
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