He contended that these values need to be maintained to maintain social stability. 2003. Religion is an agent of social control and thus strengthens social order. They think it is God’s will that they are poor, either because he is testing their faith in him or because they have violated his rules. Black churches in the South also served as settings in which the civil rights movement held meetings, recruited new members, and raised money (Morris, 1984). Religious beliefs motivated Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists to risk their lives to desegregate the South. A few religions and religious denominations are more gender equal, but male dominance remains the norm of most. But if someone makes it into a headstone, or another person uses it for landscaping, it takes on different meanings—one sacred, one profane. “Sociological Rational Choice Theory.” Annual Review of Sociology 23:191–214. Whereas Durkheim saw religion as a source of social stability, German sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864–1920) believed it was a precipitator of social change. Much of the work of Émile Durkheim stressed the functions that religion serves for society regardless of how it is practiced or of what specific religious beliefs a society favors. This sounds rubbish, but if you go into details of most religions, they have been misused in the past and are being even now.But we will see those details in the article problems with religion. A third function of religion is related to the one just discussed. As you undoubtedly have heard, an unknown number of children were sexually abused by Catholic priests and deacons in the United States, Canada, and many other nations going back at least to the 1960s. It provides social support and social networking and offers a place to meet others who hold similar values and a place to seek help (spiritual and material) in times of need. A final function of religion is that it may motivate people to work for positive social change. Summarize the major functions of religion. For example, the Vatican has a tremendous amount of wealth, while the average income of Catholic parishioners is small. Various divisions of the Church have paid tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits. Religious Influence in Society. The feminist perspective is a conflict theory view that focuses specifically on gender inequality. According to this perspective, religion has been used to support the “divine right” of oppressive monarchs and to justify unequal social structures, like India’s caste system. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Symbolic interactionists study the ways in which people practice their faith and interact in houses of worship and other religious settings, and they study how and why religious faith and practice have positive consequences for individual psychological and physical well-being. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide valuable ways for sociologists to understand religion. But what would happen if religion were to decline? It also encompasses the entire life of a person, from his or her birth, daily activities and even to demise and further. Explain how its beliefs, behaviors, and norms are like/unlike the other religion. New York: Free Press. Many people in a wide variety of fields are concerned with how to account for religion—its origin, its development, and even its persistence in modern society. Conflict theorists are critical of the way many religions promote the idea that believers should be satisfied with existing circumstances because they are divinely ordained. It provides cohesion in the social order by promoting a sense of belonging and collective consciousness . Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. During times of recession, these service jobs may be the only employment possible for younger individuals or those with low-level skills. 1975. They can be deeply intense and can involve crying, laughing, screaming, trancelike conditions, a feeling of oneness with those around you, and other emotional and psychological states. Once they are regarded as sacred, they take on special significance and give meaning to people’s lives. Above all, he believed religion is about community: It binds people together (social cohesion), promotes behavior consistency (social control), and offers strength during life’s transitions and tragedies (meaning and purpose). Moreover, it can foster group cohesion and integration. zeevveez – Star of David Coexistence- 2 – CC BY 2.0. 22.2 Public Sociology and Improving Society. Read more about functionalist views on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/Grinnell_functionalism, symbolic interactionist view on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/flat_Earth, and women in the clergy at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/women_clergy. 52 Pages of revision notes covering the entire AQA ‘beliefs in society’ specification: from perspectives on religion, organisations, class, gender ethnicity and age and secularisation, globalisation and fundamentalism. The practice of religion can include feasts and festivals, intercession with God or gods, marriage and funeral services, music and art, meditation or initiation, sacrifice or service, and other aspects of culture. Which of the three theoretical perspectives on religion makes the most sense to you? Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwel. Terry, K., & Smith, M. L. (2006). Explain the views of religion held by the symbolic interactionist perspective. Table 17.1 “Theory Snapshot” summarizes what these perspectives say. A rock, for example, isn’t sacred or profane as it exists. (2008). From this perspective, religion serves several purposes, like providing answers to spiritual mysteries, offering emotional comfort, and creating a place for social interaction and social control. Religion serves several functions for society. (The modern use of “work ethic” comes directly from Weber’s Protestant ethic, although it has now lost its religious connotations.). New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. Marx, Karl. What are some sacred items that you’re familiar with? What does the concept of work ethic mean today? Religion, in fact, depends on society for its existence, value, and significance, and vice versa. In this framework, RCT also explains the development and decline of churches, denominations, sects, and even cults; this limited part of the very complex RCT theory is the only aspect well supported by research data. Given these estimates, the number of children who were abused probably runs into the thousands. Explain your choice. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. Another assumption of RCT is that religious organizations can be viewed in terms of “costs” and “rewards.” Costs are not only monetary requirements, but are also the time, effort, and commitment demands of any particular religious organization. Rational choice theory (RCT) is one way social scientists have attempted to explain these behaviors. By this he meant that religion, like a drug, makes people happy with their existing conditions. Religion is a social institution, because it includes beliefs and practices that serve the needs of society. In the wake of nineteenth century European industrialization and secularization, three social theorists attempted to examine the relationship between religion and society: Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. News reports going back since the 1990s indicate a final problem that religion can cause, and that is sexual abuse, at least in the Catholic Church. Hechter, M. 1997. Religion has all of these benefits, but, according to conflict theory, it can also reinforce and promote social inequality and social conflict. Emerson, M. O., Monahan, S. C., & Mirola, W. A. The work ethic in the information age has been affected by tremendous cultural and social change, just as workers in the mid- to late nineteenth century were influenced by the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Religion teaches people moral behavior and thus helps them learn how to be good members of society. In fact, scholars have found little merit to his contention when applied to modern society (Greeley 1989). Chapter 11 “Gender and Gender Inequality”, Next: 17.4 Types of Religious Organizations, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal, because it is found in all societies in one form or another. Religion is an agent of social control and thus strengthens social order. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide valuable ways for sociologists to understand religion. Chapter 1: Sociology and the Sociological Perspective, 1.3 Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology, Chapter 2: Eye on Society: Doing Sociological Research, 2.2 Stages in the Sociological Research Process, 2.4 Ethical Issues in Sociological Research, 2.5 Sociological Research in the Service of Society, 3.1 Culture and the Sociological Perspective, 4.4 Socialization Through the Life Course, 4.5 Resocialization and Total Institutions, 4.6 Socialization Practices and Improving Society, Chapter 5: Social Structure and Social Interaction, 5.1 Social Structure: The Building Blocks of Social Life, 6.4 Groups, Organizations, and Social Change, Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime, and Social Control, 7.1 Social Control and the Relativity of Deviance. A Star of David consists of two superimposed triangles in the shape of a six-pointed star, but to Jews around the world it is a sign of their religious faith and a reminder of their history of persecution. It emphasizes that beliefs and practices are not sacred unless people regard them as such. From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice concerning what people determine to be sacred or spiritual (Durkheim 1915; Fasching and deChant 2001). The McDonaldization of Society. The narrow concept of religion, more often pressed by government officials than scholars of religion, needs reconsideration in the contemporary world. Eliade says religion is primarily about belief in the supernatural, which for him lies at the heart of the sacred. Second, religion reinforces social unity and stability. (2011). You may include the differences between monotheism and polytheism; the role of the gods in the epic heroes’ lives; and how the gods were perceived by their society. RCT is widely used in economics and to a lesser extent in criminal justice, but the application of RCT in explaining the religious beliefs and behaviors of people and societies is still being debated in sociology today. It has influenced other institutions. Conflict theorists also point out that those in power in a religion are often able to dictate practices, rituals, and beliefs through their interpretation of religious texts or via proclaimed direct communication from the divine. Moberg, D. O. A declaration a decade ago by the Southern Baptist Convention that a wife should “submit herself graciously” to her husband’s leadership reflected traditional religious belief (Gundy-Volf, 1998). Functionalists believe religion meets many important needs for people, including group cohesion and companionship. Many religions, including the Catholic faith, have long prohibited women from becoming spiritual leaders. Today, the work ethic of the modern workforce has been transformed, as more thinking and decision making is required. 1988. The theory proposes that people are self-interested, though not necessarily selfish, and that people make rational choices—choices that can reasonably be expected to maximize positive outcomes while minimizing negative outcomes. To interactionists, beliefs and experiences are not sacred unless individuals in a society regard them as sacred. As Chapter 11 “Gender and Gender Inequality” discussed, religion also promotes gender inequality by presenting negative stereotypes about women and by reinforcing traditional views about their subordination to men (Klassen, 2009). Religion could not be understood apart from the capitalist society that perpetuated inequality. In addition, religion will assist in the establishment and maintenance of the social norms and expectation within that culture. 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