Some material is to be credited to F.Elwell of Rogers State University.
“…has to do with socially shared and organized ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that concern ultimate meanings about the supernatural or ‘beyond’” (Stark and Bainbridge in Hughes and Kroehler).
“Whether simple or complex, all known religious beliefs display a common feature: They presuppose a classification of the real or ideal things that men conceive of into two classes—two opposite genera—that are widely designated by two distinct terms, which the words profane and sacred translate fairly well. The division of the world into two domains, one containing all that is sacred and the other all this is profane—such is the distinctive trait of religious thought.”(Durkheim in Net Industries and its Licensors 2010)
The Sacred: Those things beyond the mundane—of a strictly spiritual nature. It becomes sacred when it is invested with meaning by people. The Profane are those things of the earth, of the material world, ordinary and mundane.
Durkheim believed in a collective conscience. This is something that exists “outside” of the individual. But it works as a collective bond. It originates with society. It exists in two forms:
This is the condition in which society is based upon a high degree of social integration: that is, with little individuality.Everyone does a similar task in society. There is a strong collective conscience.Most behavior is governed by religion.
Because people in “traditional” societies engaged in similar activities, they shared a collective conscience. People were of the “we” rather than the “I.”But specialization occurs with the progress of society (modernization). There comes a “division of labor” (DOL) that atomizes people.
Thus we have “organic solidarity.” People have less and less in common. The collective conscience is diluted. The DOL separates people’s consciousness and society becomes more complex. Self interest reigns.
The individual suffers from the condition of Anomie (the loss of norms—a lack of trust in institutions such as the family).The individual is left to find his or her own way in the world without the guidelines of the group.
Religion has the necessary unifying effect of bringing people together.“[B]eliefs and practices which unite in one single community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” (Durkheim in Elwell)
Religion strengthens the individual and serves to offset the effects of Organic Solidarity (anomie).Religion is eternal. It is a “social fact” that exists beyond the individual. It is universal according to Durkheim. And so it seems.
According to Durkheim religion has thefunction of cohering a society byensuring that people meet regularly toaffirm common beliefs and values.
By worshiping a deity, the person is worshiping the collective conscience. He/she is worshiping the community or society itself.
Some of the following comes from NijoleV. Benokraitis’s SOC (2009-10)
• A group with beliefs that are outside of the mainstream of society. Also called New Religious Movement (NRM).• Usually have a charismatic leader such as David Koresh of Waco Texas infamy.• A cult can become mainstream such as the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
A religious group that has broken away from a mainstream religious organization. The tend to be small like sects. Examples are the Amish, Jewish Hassidim, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Quakers. View other religious groups as invalid.
A large and established religious group.Non-charismatic—depending upon bureaucratic organization with offices and officers.Roman Catholic and Protestant are typical churches.Often become dependent upon (rather than critical of) ruling classes.
A subgroup within a religion. They view other religions as valid. Adapt or conform to society rather than try to change it. Examples: Protestant denominations such as Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans…
More religious Less religious Women Men Older people The young Ethnic/racial groups Whites Less educated More educated Source: Nijole V.Benokraitis’s SOC (2009-10)
Religion is a set of beliefs and practicesgenerally held by a community, involvingadherence to codified beliefs and ritualsand study of ancestral or culturaltraditions, writings, history, andmythology, as well as personal faith andmystic experience. Wikipedea
Religion is a form of culture. It consists ofshared beliefs, values,, norms, andmaterial conditions that create a commonidentity.
Religion provides a sense of purpose—afeeling that life is ultimately meaningful.
It is centered in beliefs and practices thatare related to the sacred as opposed tothe profane.
The sacred is usually approachedthrough the use of rituals—social actsprescribed by rules that dictate how weshould behave in the presence of thesacred.
Most (if not all) societies have some sortof religion.Religiosity varies in importance fromcountry to country with it being veryimportant in Nigeria and Ghana to notvery important in Sweden and Japan andChina.Briefly discuss the chart on page 229.
We must consider Durkheim again. Heconnected religion not with socialinequalities or power (as did Marx) butwith the overall nature of the institutionsof a society.
According to Hughes and Kroehler(2007)Religious activity and rituals promotesocial solidarity, and thus social controlby creating a shared mental state and ashared consciousness that contributes toa social bonding.
Marx saw religion as a source of alienation.Religion defers happiness until the afterlife, making people accept their lot in life—especially the lower classes. This teaches the resigned acceptance of existing conditions.
Marx considered religion to be the“opium of the people.” Is it? The Full Quote:Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
For Marx religion engenders a “falseconsciousness” most particularly amongthe working class.This favors the status quo, i.e. conditionswhich favor those already in powerfulpositions.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Weber saw a link between the establishment of Protestantism and the birth of modern capitalism.It was the Protestants, not the Catholics, who became the early capitalist entrepreneurs.
Much of this had to do the the doctrine ofpredestination.Because the didn’t know if they weredamned or saved, they came to acceptearthly signs of aestheticism as proof oftheir salvation—e.g. hard work, thrift,restraint and avoidance of fleshypleasures.
The point is that an institution of religion, Protestantism, has also (according to Weber) given rise to the institution of capitalism as we know it.We are bound by a moralistic ideology that is not of our making.