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Religion is belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces. Super natural beings are gods and goddesses, ghosts, and souls.

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  1. 1. Religion Sociology of Religion1
  2. 2. What is Religion? F. C. Wallace  Religion - is belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces  Super natural beings are gods and goddesses, ghosts, and souls.2
  3. 3.  Other sacred forces are impersonal.  In many societies, people believe they can benefit from or manipulate supernatural forces.3
  4. 4. William L. Reese  Religion is defined as bodies of people who gather together regularly for worship.  They accept a set of doctrines involving the relationship between the individual and divinity, the supernatural, or whatever is taken to be the ultimate nature of reality.4
  5. 5. Emile Durkheim  Durkheim argued that the religion was not divinely or supernaturally inspired, but was a product of society.  Durkheim saw religion as a critical part of the social system. Religion acted as a source of solidarity and identification for the individuals within a society.5
  6. 6. Victor Turner Religion comes from the word “communitas”, an intense community spirit, a feeling of great social solidarity, equality, and togetherness.6
  7. 7.  He said, religion provided a meaning for life, it provided authority figures, and most importantly, it reinforced the morals and social norms held collectively by all within a society.  Religion provides social control, cohesion, and purpose for people.7
  8. 8. Peter Berger  argued that religion is a human construction, a social universe of meaning projecting a sacred cosmos.  Religion is constructed to be a canopy of sacred objects and meanings.8
  9. 9.  The sacred canopy is maintained by the social order, and in turn makes the objective social order subjectively legitimated to every individual.9
  10. 10. Origins of Religion  Evolution of Religion by E. B. Taylor (1871-1958)  Religion originated to explain things people did not understand  Animism  Polytheism  Monotheism10
  11. 11. Animism: Animism is a belief in spiritual beings; soul and body  Mana  Melanesians’ belief. Mana is a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe  Mana can reside in people, animals, plants and objects.11
  12. 12.  Taboo Taboo – contacting the highest chiefs’ mana can be dangerous to the commoners.12
  13. 13. Kinds of Religion  Religions are parts of particular cultures, and cultural differences show up systematically in religious beliefs and practices.  4 types of religion by Anthony Wallace  Shamanic religions (Animism)  Communal religions (Polytheism)  Olympian religions (Polytheism)  Monotheistic religions (Monotheism)13
  14. 14. Shamanistic Religion  Shaman is a part time religious practitioner  Shaman mediates between people and supernatural beings and forces  Shamans also often practice medicine14
  15. 15.  Shamans often set themselves off symbolically from ordinary people by ambiguous sex or gender role.  All societies have shamanic religion but it is most characteristic of foraging societies15
  16. 16. Shamanistic Religion16
  17. 17. Communal Religion  In addition to Shamans, communal religion has community rituals such as harvest ceremonies and rites of passage.  They usually do not have full time religious specialists.  They believe in several deities (polytheism)  Communal religions are more typical of farming societies17
  18. 18. Olympian Religion  The term Olympian comes from mount Olympus, home of the classical Greek gods thus Olympian religions are polytheistic, gods with specialized functions (gods of love, war the sea and death…)  Olympian religions arose with state organization and marked social stratification18
  19. 19.  Olympian religions have full time religious specialists, like priests  Like the state itself, the priesthood is hierarchically and bureaucratically organized  Olympian religions were characteristics of many non-industrialized nation-state such as Aztecs of Mexico, and classical Greece and Rome.19
  20. 20. Monotheistic Religion  They have full time religious specialists  In Monotheistic religions, all supernatural phenomena are manifestations of a single eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent supreme being.20
  21. 21. World Religion21
  22. 22. World Religion World religions according to their degree of internal unity and diversity The unified religions mean that they have doctorial similarity amongst the sub groups, they have less diversity in ritual practice and organization. The diverse religions are the oppositeMost Unified Most diverseBaha’i Zoroastrianism Sikhism Islam Jainism Judaism Taoism Christianity Buddhism Hinduism22
  23. 23. Function of Religion  Religion provides meanings and explanation  Religion helps to cope with uncertainty, stress and anxiety  Religion establish solidarity amongst the members  Religion enforces social control  Religion helps to cope with social changes23
  24. 24. Meanings and Explanation  Beliefs in souls – explains dream, trance and death  Beliefs in supernatural force – explains differential success that people cannot understand in ordinary, natural terms  People fail at hunting war because success comes (or does not come) from the supernatural world.24
  25. 25. Uncertainty, Stress and Anxiety  Religion helps people to cope with uncertainty, anxiety, and stress.  Religion helps people face death and endure life crisis.  Religion helps people get through significant life events such as birth, puberty, marriage and death.25
  26. 26. Magic  People face uncertainty and danger, they turn to magic  Magic refers to supernatural techniques intended to accomplish specific goals. The techniques including spells, formulas, and incantations used with deities or with impersonal forces26
  27. 27.  Malinowski who studied Trobriand Islanders found that they use magic when they were sailing, because they cannot control matters such as wind, weather, and the fish supply.  Despite our improving technical skills, we cannot still control every out come, and magic persists in contemporary societies.  Practicing of magic is widely observed, and can be associated with animism, mana, polytheism or monotheism.27
  28. 28. 28
  29. 29. Rites of Passage  Rites of passage mark any change in place, condition, social position or age:  From boyhood to manhood  From nonmember to member  From single to married  From employed to retired  , retirement part, graduation …etc.29
  30. 30.  Rites of passage includes variety of rituals and activities such as, circumcision, confirmations, wedding, baptisms, fraternity initiation30
  31. 31. Rites of passage have three phase: Separation  Liminality  Incorporation  Separation  People withdraw from the group and begin moving from one place or status to another  Incorporation:  People return to the society/ group to complete the rite31
  32. 32. Rites of Passage  Liminality (rites)  Liminal people occupy ambiguous social positions  They are cut off from normal social contacts  People experiencing liminality together form a community of equal.32
  33. 33.  Social distinctions that have existed before or will exist afterward are temporarily forgotten.  Liminal people experience the same treatment and conditions and must act alike33
  34. 34. Solidarity Religion serves the social function of creating solidarity among people34
  35. 35. Solidarity Totemism  Totem can be animals, plants or geographic features  Members of each totemic group believe themselves to be descendants of their totem.  Killing or eating one’s own totemic animal is taboo.35
  36. 36.  Totemic taboo was lifted once a year when people assembled for ceremonies dedicated to the totem, and the annual rites were believed to be necessary for the totem’s survival and reproduction.  Totems are sacred emblems symbolizing common identity and to maintain the solidarity of the members.  In totemic rites people gather together to honor their totem and by doing so, they maintain the social oneness.36
  37. 37. Social Control Code of Ethics  Religions especially the formal organized ones prescribe a code of ethnics and morality to guide behavior  Judaic Ten Commandants37
  38. 38.  Moral codes are ways of maintaining order and stability  Codes of morality and ethics are repeated constantly in religious sermons, catechisms, and the like, they become internalized psychologically.  They guide behavior and produce regret, guilt, shame, and the need for forgiveness, expiation, and absolution when they are not followed.38
  39. 39. Witchcraft  The witchcraft accusations often are directed at socially marginal or anomalous individuals.  Marriage, and post marital living arrangement  Going out late  Economically one benefited expensive of others39
  40. 40.  Witchcraft accusation becomes a leveling mechanism, a custom or social action that operates to reduce differences in wealth and other aspects of life – a kind of social control.  Religions offer rewards to ensure people’s proper behavior, such as fellowship of the religious community and punishments, such as the threat of being cast out or excommunicated.40
  41. 41. Social Control  Throughout history, political leaders have used religion to promote and justify their views and policies.  Secular leaders use religion to justify social control. Seeking power, they use religious rhetoric to get it.41
  42. 42. The case of Taliban  By 1996 the Taliban movement had firmly imposed an extreme form of social control in the name of religion of Afghanistan and its people  The Taliban attempted to create their version of an Islamic society.  Various repressive measures were instituted:42
  43. 43.  Taliban barred women from work and girls from school  Females past puberty were prohibited from talking to unrelated men.  Taliban banned playing cards, listening to music, keeping pigeons, flying kites.43
  44. 44. Reward  Religions also maintain the social order by stressing the temporary and fleeting nature of this life  Rewards in an afterlife, reincarnation…etc.  Such beliefs serve to reinforce the status quo, people accept what they have now, knowing they can expect something better in the afterlife or the next life if they follow religious guidelines.44
  45. 45. Religion and Social Changes  Like political organization religion helps maintain social order  Like political mobilization, religious energy can be harnessed not just for change but also for revolution  Reacting to conquest or to actual or perceived foreign domination, religious leaders may seek to alter or revitalize their society45
  46. 46. Revitalization movements  Revitalization movements are social movements that occur in times of change in which religious leaders emerge and undertake to alter or revitalize a society  Christianity originated as a revitalization movement  Jesus was one of several prophets who preached new religious doctrines while the Middle East was under Roman rule.  It was a time of social unrest, when a foreign power ruled the land  Jesus inspired a new, enduring and major religion.46
  47. 47. Revitalization Movements  Handsome Lake religion  Marginalization of Iroquois  Vision of Handsome Lake started having visions. The visions offered a plan for coping with the new order.  The teaching of Handsome Lake produced a new church and religion, and this new religion (revitalization movement) helped the Iroquois adapt to and survive in a modified environment.47
  48. 48.  Handsome Lake religion emerged when natives have regular contact with industrial societies but lack their wealth, technology, and living standards.  The religion is an attempt to explain European domination and wealth and to achieve similar success magically by mimicking European behavior and manipulating symbols of the desired lifestyle.48
  49. 49. Syncretisms  Syncretisms are cultural mixes, including religious blends that emerge from acculturation.  The cargo cults of Melanesia and Papua New Guinea  The cargo cults are mixture of Christian doctrine with aboriginal beliefs.  Many cults have used elements of European culture as sacred objects. The rationale is that Europeans use these objects to have wealth thus they should mimic Europeans use or treat objects.49
  50. 50.  Some cargo cult prophets proclaimed that success would come through a reversal of European domination and native subjugation.  Cargo cults are religious responses to the expansion of the world capitalist economy.  Cargo cults however had political and economic results. Previously Melanesians were separated by geography, language, and customs, but being members of the same cults and followers of the same prophets, Melanesians started forming large groups.50
  51. 51. Fundamentalism  Fundamentalism is Antimordernist movements in various religions. Antimodearnism is the rejection of the modern in favor of what is perceived as an earlier, purer, and better way of life.  Fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon, based on a strong feeling among its adherents of alienation from the surrounding modern culture.  Fundamentalists assert an identity separate from the larger religious group51 which they arose.
  52. 52.  Fundamentalists advocate strict fidelity to the “true” religious principles.  Fundamentalists also seek to rescue religion from absorption into modern, Western culture.  Fundamentalists see a sharp divide between themselves and other religions, and between a “sacred” view of life and the “secular” world and “nominal religion”52
  53. 53. Wrap-up  Religion is a cultural universal, consists of belief and behavior concerned with supernatural beings, powers and forces. Religion encompasses the feelings, meanings and congregations associated with such beliefs and behavior.53
  54. 54.  E. B. Taylor introduced evolution of religions as Animism  Polytheism  Monotheism, and considered that animism is the religion’s earliest and most basic form.54
  55. 55.  A. Wallace introduced 4 types of religion: Shamanistic, Communal, Olympian, and Monotheistic religion  Religions have several functions:  They provide meanings and explanation (magic)  They enable to cope with uncertainty, stress and anxiety (magic, rites of passage)  They establish solidarity55
  56. 56.  They provide social control (witchcraft, codes of ethics)  They enable to cope with social changes (revitalization, syncretism, fundamentalism)56