Marx Weber and Durkheim on Religion Essay

1371 Words Sep 4th, 2007 6 Pages
A religion can be seen as a unified system of beliefs and practices which are relative to sacred things and beliefs (Giddens 1972, p.224). It can shape ones thoughts and feelings and gives people a sense of hope and something to believe in. All three main sociologist writers Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim offer different perspectives on religion and how important it is to society. Some of the theorists chose to have a positive view whilst others argue the unimportance of religion. This essay attempts to discover which theorist has the most accurate perspective of religion in modern times. This is done by firstly explaining the basic ideas regarding to religion put forward by Marx, Weber and Durkheim. Then both Marx's and …show more content…
The ideas of both Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx will be compared and contrasted in this section. Both theorists choose to have different ideas regarding religion – Durkheim can be seen to view religion as an entity which strengthens social bonds whilst Marx chose to view religion as somewhat of a drug or opiate for the people. Marx's ideas on religion was that it served capitalist intentions by making the people lesser off in life forget about their problems but not actually solving any of these problems – much like opium (Engels, Marx 1955, p.41). Therefore, Marx suggests that religion does not really give anything to society, however, Durkheim thinks quite differently about religion and its connection with society and how it has helped man grow knowledge and understanding of the world. According to Nisbet (1993, p.243), men owe religion not only a major part of their knowledge, but also the way in which this knowledge has been formulated. Marx's views of religion also differ to Durkheim's in subject of viewing religion as an illusion. Marx's observation of religion came to the conclusion that it is merely an illusion, somewhat of a fantasy that might allow man to see the real forces of history (Nisbet 1993, p.257). However, Durkheim attempts to disprove any theories regarding religion as superstitious when he suggests that any rationalist who attempt to portray religion as a bunch of

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