Functionalism Conflict Theory

Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and Symbiotic Interaction


The functionalist theory states that all social institutions exist to keep society functioning (Conely, 2015). Each social institution and process exists to serve a unique function to society, allowing it to continue running smoothly. This theory can be used to explain the strong prevalence religion has on society today. Before science gained popularity, people needed something to use to explain the then unexplainable phenomenon occurring in the world around them, so they used a higher power to explain them. Using functionalist thought, sociologists would say that religions exist in society to provide explanations for the unexplainable.

In today’s world, where
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For example, when someone gets into a bad accident, but they survive. When someone survives an accident against all odds, they like to explain it as a miracle, a gift from god some say. Not only do religion and faith help people cope in difficult times it has also been found to help speed the healing process. Functionalism, gives a purpose to every part of society, and allows people to find value in even the most meaningless aspects of society.

Conflict Theory

The conflict theory can be defined as the idea that social change and society are rooted in conflicts of competing interests (Conley, 2015). By using this theory to explain religion in society today, sociologists could come to the conclusion that different religions and denominations continue to exist because the conflict they create fuel societal growth and change.

Religious conflict has played a large role in the history of society. Religious persecution and religious conflicts have plagued society almost as long as humans have been around, and the conflict theory provides a clear explanation to why this might
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When applying this theory to religion one can see how various interpretations of religion can create individual differences in beliefs, and interpretations as well as how these variations come to be. More specifically, the symbolic interactionist theory would argue that religion is a social construct, reality that serves as a safety net for society while solidifying individual and group identities.

The idea of religion as a way to form group identities is seen today, with the association between Muslims and ISIS. The ability for ISIS to form such a strong group, and following is based partly on the leader 's ability to persuade their followers that they are doing it for Allah, the Islamic god. The commonality of a religion and a faith serves to strengthen the goals of ISIS, and indeed has acted as a motivating factor of their behaviors. However, since all Muslims have not fallen into ISIS’s skewed view of Islam, the symbolic integrationist theory would stress the importance of individual

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