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  1. 1. Functionalist Theories of Religion Miss Russell Bilton School
  2. 2. To Start: Definitions of Religion Imagine that the 3 definitions of religion shared a hot-air balloon ride but because of the combined weight of the 3 the balloon is crashing. By throwing 2 definitions over-board the balloon would be able to fly free. Which 2 definitions do you think should be disregarded and why? Aim to write about 150/200 words to explain your answer. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  3. 3. Thinking Ladder… To & the functionalist definition of religion in more detail. To & the key concepts of Durkheim’s theory of religion.
  4. 4. How will I know if I am learning? By the end of the lesson… E Will be able to explain the functionalist definition of religion. C Will be able to explain Durkheim’s theory of religion. A Will be able to explain Durkheim’s theory of religion in detail using key terms.
  5. 5. Functionalism: Organic Analogy • Functionalism sees society as a biological organism with independent parts (organs) all playing a vital role in maintaining the social system. Task: In pairs consider your responses to the following: 1. What different institutions are there in society? 2. Why are they there? What functions do they perform? 3. How do these functions help society (and individuals)? 4. Draw a diagram showing the links between these institutions Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  6. 6. Functionalism • Society has certain basic needs Social Order Cooperation Social solidarity • How do you get social order? Consensus about society’s shared norms & values Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  7. 7. Society is a system of interrelated functional parts Each institution within society performs certain functions. Religion is an institution that has many functions.... Charlotte Russell Mind map all the possible functions of religion Bilton School
  8. 8. Functions of Religion? Emotion Support. E.g. Funerals However… are any of these controversial? Does religion always create social harmony? Creates social harmony Provides guides for how we act Charlotte Russell Functions of Religion Provides security heaven Brings people together Bilton School
  9. 9. Durkheim (1915) • According to Durkheim religious institutions play a central part in creating and maintaining the value consensus, order and solidarity of a society. • Durkheim accepted that religion played a very important role within society. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  10. 10. Durkheim: Religion maintains a Value Consensus, Order & Solidarity Durkheim was not interested in the belief in gods or spirits but in the distinction between the sacred and the profane SACRED: Things set apart and forbidden that inspire feelings of awe, fear and wonder and are surrounded by taboos and prohibitions PROFANE: Things that have no special significance – things that are ordinary and mundane. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  11. 11. The Sacred or Profane Game Look at the cards in front of you. Decide whether the items are sacred or profane and why…. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
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  18. 18. Collectivism and Collective Conscience • Religion is not merely a set of beliefs but definite practises or rituals in relation to the sacred. These rituals are collective. • Durkheim argues that to worship the sacred is to worship society itself because society is the only thing powerful enough to evoke such feelings. • Despite sacred items varying from religion to religion they all perform the essential function of uniting believers into a single moral community. • The sacred items used in religion represent the societies shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that make social life and integration possible. Without these, society would disintegrate. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  19. 19. Cognitive Functions • Durkheim argues that religion is the origin of human thought, giving us a concept of time, space, cause and substance. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  20. 20. Totemism Simplest most basic form of religion • Durkheim studied the Arunta clan in Australia and noted that they all worshiped a totem (spiritual symbol, such as an animal). The totem rituals gave each member of the clan a sense of belonging and awe. • Task: Draw a totem that best Durkheim believes that this feeling represents is reflective the of belonging and awe ofUK the power of the group which each member is utterly dependent on. Therefore they are worshipping their society. Charlotte Russell Clip Bilton School
  21. 21. Task: Summary Write a 200-300 summary of Durkheim’s Theory of Religion. Try to include all the key terms. Extension: Create a table of strengths and weaknesses. How can Durkheim be criticised? Charlotte Russell Bilton School

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