Durkheim 's Influence On Religion Essay

912 Words Sep 28th, 2016 4 Pages
Functionalists believe that society functions like a body, different parts completing different functions, for example the family and education both serve the vital roles of teaching norms and values as well as segregating children into their roles for life. Similarly, functionalists see religion as being a vital part of a functioning society, to create a value consensus whereas Marxists and feminists believe that religion allows for inequality between classes and sexes.
Durkheim believes that religion maintains a value consensus within any one society, which dictates the norms and values of that society and teaches it, through Sunday school and other religious activities, to children. Additionally, Durkheim believed that religion taught the difference between sacred (items that invoke powerful feelings through great power) and profane (everyday items that carry no power). Durkheim claimed the great power sacred items held was actually society itself, not the deity, because the only thing powerful enough to command such feelings. Therefore, worshiping sacred symbols is actually worshipping society, rather than a deity. The example Durkheim gives is one of a simple clan society that worship totems, the Arunta, an Australian Aboriginal tribe. The clans were made up of bonds of kin, who came together to worship totems and what is important to them. Just like modern society, the totems inspired feelings of awe because the totem represented the power of the group. On the other…

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