Emile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms Of Religious Life

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The Elementary Forms of Religious Life is a well known book written by Emile Durkheim in which he describes the connection between religion and social life. In order to depict religion in a social matter, he defines religious ceremonies as events that worship social life. He states that society is the driving force in a religion and that religious gatherings function to bring people together. It is important to understand that social life is inherently religious and as long as there are societies, religion will exist and it will allow individuals to give meaning to life in a communal way (Appelrouth and Edles 2016:123). Durkheim clarifies that individuals come together as a group to reaffirm their moral values and beliefs. A belief system, …show more content…
The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is a great example of a symbol that –with belief in the understood meaning behind it—becomes a sacred object. In the Catholic faith, the Virgin of Guadalupe signifies the mother of Christ and becomes part of an individual’s identity, which ultimately unites Catholics that share that belief. This symbolic object helps ingrain the morals and values of the Catholic faith because of what it stands for. While symbols are considered sacred because of the power that individuals associate them with, they are part of a profane world. A Jewish community doesn’t see the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as sacred because they don’t associate the same meaning to it as Catholics do. The image has shown to be a part of a profane world, even in the community where the symbol originated from. The Virgin of Guadalupe image is used as an accessory and tattooed on people that don’t come together in religious gatherings that are associated with that image. A symbol is a representation that requires communal ideas of meanings. Durkheim believed that ritualizing a symbol and socially magnifying it is what gives it meaning (Appelrouth and Edles 2016) (Durkheim in Appelrouth and Edles …show more content…
Along with sacred symbols in the Catholic faith, there are sacred rituals like going to church to get confessed and attending mass every Sunday that have omnipresent power. These are “periodical reunions whereby members may revivify their common faith by manifesting it in common” (Durkheim in Appelrouth and Edles 2016:131). As previously mentioned, standing for the national anthem is a ritual amongst most people that live in the United States. The national anthem is a social celebration of identity and create a community between Americans. There will be times when an individual does not commit to sacred rituals but it doesn’t go unnoticed and it shows how functional the ritual is as demonstrates the morals and values that the group represents. A British female student that is studying abroad in the United States that goes to a sporting event and mocks the national anthem by not standing is an example of a ritual being sacred to some and profane to others. This behavior does not go unnoticed. The rest of the crowd collectively gets offended and feels the need to reaffirm their beliefs and morals by suggesting that the girl stands up. This is because sacred rituals –like those in a religion—allows social control to be put in place. In this situation, the profane contributes in reaffirming social

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