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  1. 1. Introducing theories of Religion Functionalism Learning Objectives: 1) Interpret and evaluate the main theories and functions of religion. (A-B) (A02 skills) 2) Apply functional theories of religion to contemporary society. (C-D) (A02 skills) 3) Identify and explain the main theories and functions of religion (E-U) (A01 skills)
  2. 2. Recap List all the things you can remember from your studies of functionalism last term. Use the images to help jog your memory.
  3. 3. Functionalist theories of religion Exam tip! Analysis (A02) Explain the functionalist argument that VC is necessary to hold society together. Without it, individual selfishness would cause social disintegration.. Durkheim (1915) argues that religious institutions play a crucial part in creating and maintaining value consensus, social order and solidarity.
  4. 4. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) “A religion is a unified set of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say things set apart and forbidden- beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church.” Religion serves an important function in society, that is to unite people together creating a collective conscience to maintain social order.
  5. 5. Functions of religion... Satan Stalks Cowardly Men • Social solidarity Shared religion binds people closely together • Social identity Religion gives people an identity and social membership • Collective conscience Religion unites people in moral ways. • Meaning and purpose Gives meaning and purpose to people’s lives.
  6. 6. The ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’ Sacred symbols vary from religion to religion, they perform the function of uniting believers into a single moral community. Task! List or draw some religious symbols and ceremonies that you believe are sacred.
  7. 7. Totemism Durkheim studied clan societies to emphasise his work on religion- specifically the Arunta, an Australian Aboriginal tribe. The Arunta tribe worship a sacred totem. The totem is a clans emblem, such as an animal or plant that symbolises the clans origins and identity. The totemic rituals reinforce the groups solidarity and sense of belonging.
  8. 8. When clan members worship their totemic animal they are worshipping society. The sacred symbols represent society's ‘collective consciousnes s’. The shared norms, values, beliefs and knowledge that makes social life and cooperation between individuals possible. Regular shared religious ritual's binds individuals together. By making us feel part of something greater than ourselves, religion reinvigorates and strengthens us to face life's challenges.
  9. 9. Cognitive functions of religion In order to think at all we need categories such as time, cause, number etc and in order to share our thoughts we need to use the same categories as others. What does this mean? Religion provides us with categories such as time, space and causation. Religion is the origin of human thought, reason and science. Religion is the origin of concepts and categories we need for reasoning. Understanding the world and communicating.
  10. 10. Evaluation of Durkheim (A02) Key A02 skills
  11. 11. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Reading Task • Using the Haralambos and Holborn book. Answer the AO1 and AO2 skill questions. • You have 20 minutes.
  12. 12. Psychological functions Malinowski (1954) Religion promotes social solidarity by helping individuals cope with emotional stress. There is two situations where it performs this. Read the handout on Malinowski and answer the AO1 and AO2 questions.
  13. 13. Evaluation of Malinowski (A02) Malinowski has been criticised for exaggerating the importance of religious rituals. It has been argued that rituals are related more to the general maintenance of society than social solidarity and or dealing with uncertainty and danger. The Trobriand islanders used rituals to cultivate crops- the produce was used to make payments,
  14. 14. Talcott Parsons (1967): Values and meanings It provides a source of meaning, answering ‘ultimate questions about life 10 mins It creates and legitimates society's basic norms and values Read the handout on Talcott Parsons and answer the exam skills based questions.
  15. 15. Evaluation of Parsons (AO2) Parsons views are arguably outdated. We live in an increasingly secular society. Does religion promote social order? What about social conflict?
  16. 16. Bellah (1970) and Civil Religion
  17. 17. Advert on American TV encouraging support to the American army: Children pledging allegiance to the flag. Watch the following clips and complete the A02 application and analysis questions. 10 year old boy refuses to pledge allegiance to the flag. &p=26B7218501F6274A&playnext=1&index=8
  18. 18. Evaluation (AO2)
  19. 19. Task Exam tip! AO2 Application. Remember to apply modern day examples in your essays. Watch the news, YouTube, read the paper and magazine to keep up to date. List some examples of civil religion in the United Kingdom. Think of events, objects, and ceremonies etc that are similar to the American examples. Using your examples write a short paragraph to explain how the UK could be unified through Civil religion. (A02 application and interpretation).
  20. 20. 9 mark exam question Identify and briefly explain one advantage and two disadvantages of functional definitions of religion. ( 9 marks). Identify and briefly explain three religious functions. (9 marks). Remember: 1 mark for each correct identification (3 marks) 2 marks for a ‘satisfactory’ explanation of each point. (6 marks )
  21. 21. 18 mark question • Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the functionalist view that religion benefits both society as a whole and its individual members. (18 marks) • 6 marks for AO1 (K+U) • 12 marks for AO2 ( Interpretation, application, analysis and evaluation).
  22. 22. Extension TASK! Homework • Using the resources available to you create a revision mind map or guide concerning functionalist theories on religion. • Ensure you note the main points and include examples of evaluation.