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Chapter 16 religion
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Chapter 16 religion

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  • Specific religions can seem so different from one another, but religion is fascinating to sociologists because almost all religions have the same tenets – for example, all religions have a creation myth, or a story about where people come from. All religions have an explanation about what happens to people when they die. All religions have guidelines for people to follow to ensure that they are rewarded for dedication. The differences are in the details. Despite these differences, all religion has a huge impact on individual and group behavior and personal identity.
  • Theism includes monotheism (worshipping a single god) and polytheism (worshipping many gods).
  • The separation of church and state is a secular idea, which suggests that the government and religion should not be mixed or that they should stay separate from one another. Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerty_Theresa_Radnitz_Cori_%281896-1957%29_and_Carl_Ferdinand_Cori_%281896-1984%29.jpg
  • Figure 16.1 World Religions
  • Figure 16.2 Percentages o f Religious Adherents Worldwide
  • Figure 16.3 Percentage of National Populations that Rated the Importance of God in Their Lives as “10”
  • Figure 16.4 One Nation, Many Faiths
  • Figure 16.6 Religious Activity by Gender
  • Remember, Marx was a conflict theorist: he was interested in the conflicts in society and how those conflicts influence the way that people interact with each other. Marx found religion to be an oppressor of people, and oppression generally leads to conflict within a society.
  • Again, if we look at this from a functionalist perspective, we could argue, as Durkheim did, that religion helps bring people together. It can create social cohesion and collective consciousness. Also, Durkheim believed that symbols themselves weren ’t powerful, but that they become powerful when many people invest in them. This happens collectively, as in religion.
  • Weber also believed that religion played a significant role in how people interact with one another. Protestants were known for their strong work ethic. They believed that the way to a wealthy afterlife was to work hard and to be thrifty, not to indulge in pleasures of the flesh or in material commodities. Therefore, Protestants were the ideal individuals in the making of a capitalist society because they were already earning a surplus – more money than they needed to buy their basic necessities. Weber felt that the Protestant work ethic had a huge impact of capitalism. In other words, from a functionalist perspective, the Protestant work ethic served a function to a capitalism system.
  • There are many examples of different religious groups coming together to work for a common cause. This is commonly seen for political reasons (groups may come together to have more strength in numbers), or after a natural disaster (groups may come together for a common cause). Of course, there are also examples of rivalries within communities, where organizations can ’t find enough common ground to get along. Either coming together or conflict can be the outcome when pluralism is present.
  • People tend to confess more spirituality at times of great challenge, so in the event of a disaster, an act of terror, or even a declining economy, people are more likely to classify themselves as religious. It is also the case that our leisure time has been steadily decreasing in recent years. Thus, there could be a combination of reasons why we are seeing these trends.
  • Religious institutions were the communities that were charged with “getting the word out” about important events. Churches propelled the civil rights movement forward by disseminating information. These territorial communities are still significant, but their role isn’t as strong as it once was. Politicians, for example, no longer campaign through any religious institution; now they campaign online, through social networking sites. This demonstrates how much the flow of information has changed in our society in the past couple of decades.
  • In other words, religion can play an important role in many other aspects of an individual ’s life.
  • Use this video to further the discussion on racial realities. It can also foster a discussion about how race and religion are perceived in contemporary U.S. society.
  • This interests sociologists for many reasons, but it is fascinating to consider the consumption of religion. In many ways, religion has become commodified (something that can be bought and sold), and it is interesting to think about some of the ways that religion has transformed from a public, shared resource to a consumer item.
  • For an interesting discussion, ask your students if they have any familiarity with this trend. Do they attend a church that they can “follow on Facebook” or do they have an online support group of friends whose common tie is religion? Today churches are using popular culture and new media to reach out to people, which helps to attract new members.
  • There are more than 1,000 churches like this in the United States. Some of these churches have attendance between 10,000 and almost 50,000 members! In 2007, the largest megachurch in the world was Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea. At that time, it had 830,000 members. These churches are sometimes criticized for taking members away from smaller churches, yet most people in the United States attend small congregations (generally with less than 200 members).
  • Why are there so many Christian churches in the United States?
  • In other words, the kinds of people who would seek a stricter place of worship are also the kinds of people who would attend every service, follow the demands of the institution more closely, and dedicate more time (and possibly resources) to the mission of the organization. Members at these kinds of religious institutions value the high demands of a stricter organization and are willing to spend more time and effort supporting it.

Transcript

  • 1. What Is Religion? • Religion – a system of beliefs and practices around sacred things, a set of shared “stories” that guide belief and action – Religious beliefs help shape social behavior by setting expectations and helping people distinguish between right and wrong.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 2. What Is Religion? • There are many religions throughout the world, all of which fall into one of three categories: – Theism is the worship of a god or gods. – Ethicalism is adherence to certain principles to lead a© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. moral life. – Animism is the belief that spirits roam the natural world.
  • 3. What Is Religion? • Secularism is a general movement away from religiosity and spiritual belief and toward a rational, scientific orientation.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 4. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition Figure 16.1 World Religions Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 5. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition Figure 16.2 Percentages of Religious Adherents Worldwide Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 6. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. Figure 16.3 Percentage of National Populations That Rated You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition the Importance of God in Their Lives as “10” Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 7. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition Figure 16.4 One Nation, Many Faiths Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 8. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition Figure 16.6 Religious Activity by Gender Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 9. Can belief and science co-exist?© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=h5ACyiSPAmE&feature=fvwrel 9
  • 10. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. Richard Dawkins poses in front of an ad campaign that he and the British Humanist Association posted on 800 buses around You May Ask Yourself, 2nd Edition Great Britain. Copyright © 2011 W.W. Norton & Company
  • 11. Theory: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim • Karl Marx argued religion was used to keep workers from questioning their oppressed position in everyday life by promising them riches in the afterlife.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 12. Theory: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim • Émile Durkheim – argued that religions promote solidarity by strengthening the collective conscience. – felt that sacred symbols become powerful because people collectively invest them with© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. power through their shared beliefs.
  • 13. Theory: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim • Max Weber stated that: – Protestantism was necessary for capitalism because it states that a person fulfilled the duty to God through hard work. – Making money was not frowned upon, although spending that money on pleasure and personal enjoyment© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. was.
  • 14. Secularization or Speculation? • Pluralism is the presence of numerous distinct religious groups in one society. – Possible negative effect: having too many choices weakens the credibility of any one church. – Possible positive effect: diverse religions can engage with one another© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. to build a common sense of community.
  • 15. Secularization or Speculation? • Attendance at religious services is declining overall in the United States, but the number of people who profess to have religious© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. or spiritual beliefs is holding steady or rising.
  • 16. At the Micro Level: Is It a Great Big Delusion? • Microsociologists look at religion in terms of its meaning and uses in people’s everyday lives.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 17. The Power of Religion: Social Movements • Churches and church organizations also played a key role in the civil rights movement through coalition building, fundraising, and communications. • The church has long played an important role in African American communities, building strong social© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. networks, providing social services, and functioning as a safe haven for people who have experienced enormous marginalization in society at large.
  • 18. Religion and the Social Landscape • Religious affiliation and practice can be closely connected to elements as varied as family structure, gender, social status, age, educational attainment level, type of involvement in the church, geography, and politics.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 19. Religion and the Social In terv iew, Jen ’na n Reed Landscape© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. Jen’nan Reed discusses her research on the experience of Muslims in the United States. 19
  • 20. Selling God, Shopping for Faith: The Commercialization of Religion • Americans donate billions of dollars per year to religious organizations, and in addition to donations, there is a huge market for religious products, particularly Christian products.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 21. Selling God, Shopping for Faith: The Commercialization of Religion • In an effort to appeal to a wider audience, especially young people, many churches have incorporated elements of pop culture into their services and messages and added more secular© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. activities to attract members.
  • 22. Selling God, Shopping for Faith: The Commercialization of Religion • A megachurch is typically a conservative Protestant church that attracts at least 2,000 people to worship services per week. • Megachurches stress family values above religious tradition and are© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. known for being flexible and creative.
  • 23. Selling God, Shopping for Faith: The Commercialization of Religion© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. 23
  • 24. The Paradox of Popularity • The sect–church cycle is one explanation for the existence of so many Christian churches in the United States. – Sects usually start out by separating from an existing church because of disagreements over the direction or emphasis of the church.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. – Over time, if the sect develops a large enough following, it may become a church in its own right, and eventually another sect may split off from it.
  • 25. The Paradox of Popularity • Stricter religious institutions are more likely to grow faster than more lenient or open groups because members of stricter groups are likely to be more committed and to buy more completely into the group’s overall mission.© 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc.
  • 26. © 2011 W. W. Norton Co., Inc. Mass Delusion?26