Emile Durkheim And Max Weber's Functionalist View Of Religion

Good Essays
T.J. LeBlanc
325171965
IDC4U1-02
December 18, 2018
Sociological Understanding of Religion
Religion is a prevalent topic in sociology, with Emile Durkheim and his functionalist theory, Karl Marx and his conflict theory, and Max Weber and his symbolic interactionist theory all having their own opinions and perspectives on the topic. While their views on religion do have quite a few differences when compared with each other, there are some similarities among their views and opinions that point towards what the general sociological understanding may be. These similarities are that they all in general believe that religion has a significant role or purpose in society, and that as society continues to modernize, traditional religion will eventually
…show more content…
Emile Durkheim was interested in religious behavior within a social context and was known to stress religion’s social impact on society. Emile Durkheim believed that religion serves several important functions for society regardless of the way that it may be practiced or the religious beliefs that a certain society may favor. He proposed that religion has three major functions in society: it helps maintain social solidarity through shared beliefs and rituals by providing social cohesion, it helps to maintain control and conformity in society by giving social control to morals and norms based on religion, and it offers meaning and purpose to answer existential questions. Durkheim believed that these major functions of religion helped to bind the members of society together by prompting them to uphold and share their common beliefs and practices on a daily basis, and that people tend to view religion as being something that is positively contributing to the continuation and health of society in general which may also help to bind the members of society. Durkheim believed that religion is not “imaginary” and that it is very real. He viewed religion as being a representation of our collective consciousness, which is a reality of its own created from the fusion of everyone in a society’s individual consciousness and shared sentiments. Durkheim also noticed that people who were religious would tend to separate things considered to be sacred such as religious symbols or rituals from things considered to profane such as objects and symbols that can be found normally in everyday life. This is because people believe that sacred objects have some sort of divine property to them that separates from objects considered to be profane. Durkheim predicted that as society modernized, the influence of religion would decrease as a result and the concept of “God” would no longer exist.

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Sociology Of Religion

    • 1043 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Later, he changed his view and saw that religion within the context of the entire society and recognized its place in influencing the thinking and behavior of members of society. Durkheim discovered that people tend to separate sacred objects such as religious symbols and rituals from profane objects which are daily symbols and routines of existence. With the help of Durkheim, he invented a language to understand our collective moral…

    • 1043 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Weber was more of an interpretivist and felt actions were very important in his studies. Even with ontology, Weber studied people’s intentions and motives, while Durkheim focused on the structural aspect of society. This paper will study how each sociologist contributed to society with their different viewpoints. Durkheim and Weber both agreed that religion affects people generally speaking. They each believed religion would forever stay alive; however, Durkheim believed religion was absolutely necessary for society to exist.…

    • 1022 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    When this society collectively decides to create a symbolic representation of a religion, it intern creates a “sacred” object which tangible represents a sacred religion, or, in a vague sense a “sacred” god. Since this god exercises a moral authority or “force” over individuals in a society just as the society does, one can conclude that this relationship implies that both god and society are “one in the same”, and that the “moral forces” generated by this god and society tangible effect the individuals in the…

    • 1122 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    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.…

    • 857 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Religion and Social/Political Institutions In every tradition there exists a religion, a system of belief beyond the grasp of man. Human beings have a desire for a supreme being, something they acquire through religion. Religion serves the purpose of quenching man’s thirst to be good and peaceful thereby creating some order. It does not matter how or when the development of man began, his overwhelming urge to worship has formed and will continue to give rise to more kinds of religious behaviors. Man’s need for religion is so powerful that it has developed a variety of practices, attitudes and beliefs.…

    • 2217 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    He believes that through understanding religion, we can explain human motivation. To Weber, religion provides humanity answers to theodicy questions such as suffering and misfortunes to undeserved people and vice versa. Religion provide answers to this unbalanced world and thus motivates humanity to find salvation through it. Whether that salvation is a relief from suffering or simply reassurance of one’s abilities and importance, Weber believes that it is the foundation of motivation through the religious perspective. Weber introduced ‘Verstehen’ into the field of sociology.…

    • 1394 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Identity In Religion

    • 2180 Words
    • 9 Pages

    This research has already discussed the differences between rooted and created identities. This being said, religion is not its own identity, it incorporates itself into the already formed identity. Thus, it changes one’s identity. The only difference is that it molds and shapes it into something new and improved. “Although citizens may strive to maintain their individual identities in a number of areas,… being spiritual is fundamental to being a citizen and therefore is not another identity” (Gates 306).…

    • 2180 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    And since that’s the case, it should be counted as a sacred text that should not be changed. I feel like religion adapts to the environment they encounter and the people who lives in that particular environment, they take what they like and leave they things they don’t like out. That’s another reason why I don’t think that religion is essential to society. Durkheim believes that religion is defined using the conception of supernatural and its divine deity when religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism and many other religions do not have a deity to begin with. Also Geertz describes how culture has a big impact on religion and the term he uses is syncretism, which means the act of combining, such as religion and culture.…

    • 807 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The purpose was to remove the idea of the cult of the individual and create a practice where self-importance and selfishness did not arise. Therefore for society, of which Gods are the main symbolic expression allows individuals to be more connected to society. Religion is a way to build solidarity by the worship of the society and the people in…

    • 766 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Humans created God by recognizing the respected values and feeling that a humans can possess. The will that humans have comes from the perception of God’s love. Than we imagine these values in a perfect form eventually putting them into our personal identity, which we portray as anthropomorphism. Therefore, we believe…

    • 513 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays