In order to avoid being thrown into hell, religion demands that people prove to God that they are worthy of heaven. Religious practice promotes the well-being of individuals, families, and the community. By this he meant that religion, like a drug, makes people happy with their existing conditions. (2008). By this reasoning, even if traditional religion disappeared, society wouldn’t necessarily dissolve. The theory doesn’t address many aspects of religion that individuals may consider essential (such as faith) and further fails to account for agnostics and atheists who don’t seem to have a similar need for religious explanations. Contribution to Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Despite their different views, these social theorists all believed in the centrality of religion to society. Religious rituals and ceremonies also illustrate the symbolic interactionist approach. Religion has all of these benefits, but, according to conflict theory, it can also reinforce and promote social inequality and social conflict. Once we regard them as sacred, they take on special significance and give meaning to our lives. Spirituality and aging: Research and implications. Religion reinforces and promotes social inequality and social conflict. Conflict theorists are critical of the way many religions promote the idea that believers should be satisfied with existing circumstances because they are divinely ordained. Consider a religion that you are familiar with, and discuss some of its beliefs, behaviors, and norms. Religion can be the source of social unity and cohesion, but over the centuries it also has led to persecution, torture, and wanton bloodshed. Fasching, Darrel, and Dell deChant. A declaration a decade ago by the Southern Baptist Convention that a wife should “submit herself graciously” to her husband’s leadership reflected traditional religious belief (Gundy-Volf, 1998). The work ethic in the information age has been affected by tremendous cultural and social change, just as workers in the mid- to late nineteenth century were influenced by the wake of the Industrial Revolution. By the end of this section, you will be able to: From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice that define what people consider to be sacred or spiritual (Fasching and deChant 2001; Durkheim 1915). (1984). Klassen, P. In addition, religion will assist in the establishment and maintenance of the social norms and expectation within that culture. What does the concept of work ethic mean today? In this framework, RCT also explains the development and decline of churches, denominations, sects, and even cults; this limited part of the very complex RCT theory is the only aspect well supported by research data. Another illustration of religious beliefs is the creation stories we find in different religions. Religious leaders, who should be in the forefront of moral and spiritual renewal, have been cowed into a … Moberg, D. O. First, religion gives meaning and purpose to life. It also encompasses the entire life of a person, from his or her birth, daily activities and even to demise and further. Critics of RCT argue that it doesn’t fit well with human spiritual needs, and many sociologists disagree that the costs and rewards of religion can even be meaningfully measured or that individuals use a rational balancing process regarding religious affiliation. Why is religion important in life, in the society, and in our country? Therefore, the proper role of religion in every society is to lay down the rules or laws to be followed by every member. When religion developed in Mesopotamia is unknown, but the first written records of religious practice date to c. 3500 BCE from Sumer. Various divisions of the Church have paid tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits. For many people they can be transformative experiences, while for others they are not transformative but are deeply moving nonetheless. However, a society that uses religion as a cornerstone, will ultimately find that it provides a settling sense over that society. “The Rational Choice Theory of Religion: Shopping for Faith or Dropping your Faith?” Retrieved February 21, 2012 (http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/religion/overview.php). Much of the work of Émile Durkheim stressed the functions that religion serves for society regardless of how it is practiced or of what specific religious beliefs a society favors. It's not uncommon for Buddhists, Muslims or Christians to create their own fellowships for believers. The information age has increased the rapid pace of production expected in many jobs. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwel. The practice of religion can include feasts and festivals, intercession with God or gods, marriage and funeral services, music and art, meditation or initiation, sacrifice or service, and other aspects of culture. (1998, September–October). RCT proposes that, in a pluralistic society with many religious options, religious organizations will compete for members, and people will choose between different churches or denominations in much the same way they select other consumer goods, balancing costs and rewards in a rational manner. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. Max Weber believed religion could be a force for social change. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Explain the views of religion held by the symbolic interactionist perspective. (2011). For instance, from the functionalist perspective of sociological theory, religion is an integrative force in society because it has the power to shape collective beliefs. Retrieved January 20, 2012 (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/KANAZAWA/pdfs/ARS1997.pdf). Functionalists contend that religion serves several functions in society. First, Glenn Beck, Christine O'Donnell, and their conservative Christian sheep are wrong: religious faith is not necessary for a society to be successful and well-functioning. From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice concerning what people determine to be sacred or spiritual (Durkheim 1915; Fasching and deChant 2001). “Religious Economies and Sacred Canopies: Religious Mobilization in American Cities, 1906.” American Sociological Review 53:41–49. The symbolic interactionist perspective emphasizes how religion affects the daily lives of individuals and how they interpret their religious experiences. Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. It helps convince the poor to accept their lot in life, and it leads to hostility and violence motivated by religious differences. Marx, K. (1964). New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. Marx, Karl. Employees also seek autonomy and fulfillment in their jobs, not just wages. Which of the three theoretical perspectives on religion makes the most sense to you? These include (a) giving meaning and purpose to life, (b) reinforcing social unity and stability, (c) serving as an agent of social control of behavior, (d) promoting physical and psychological well-being, and (e) motivating people to work for positive social change. Black churches in the South also served as settings in which the civil rights movement held meetings, recruited new members, and raised money (Morris, 1984). Religiosity also apparently promotes better physical health, and some studies even find that religious people tend to live longer than those who are not religious (Moberg, 2008). Religious symbols indicate the value of the symbolic interactionist approach. “Religious Attendance and Subjective Well-Being among Older Americans: Evidence from the General Social Survey.” Review of Religious Research 45:116–129. For example, the Vatican has a tremendous amount of wealth, while the average income of Catholic parishioners is small. The McDonaldization of Society. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. On an extreme level, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism are all examples of this dynamic. The journal promotes the study of religious groups and beliefs among various peoples, past and present, with special emphasis on American religions and Western religious traditions. Sociological perspectives on religion aim to understand the functions religion serves, the inequality and other problems it can reinforce and perpetuate, and the role it plays in our daily lives (Emerson, Monahan, & Mirola, 2011). 1993. Read more about functionalist views on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/Grinnell_functionalism, symbolic interactionist view on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/flat_Earth, and women in the clergy at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/women_clergy. 22.2 Public Sociology and Improving Society. Religion is an agent of social control and thus strengthens social order. Let’s explore how scholars applying these paradigms understand religion. 7.4 The Get-Tough Approach: Boon or Bust? Greeley, Andrew. Weber noted that certain kinds of Protestantism supported the pursuit of material gain by motivating believers to work hard, be successful, and not spend their profits on frivolous things. News reports going back since the 1990s indicate a final problem that religion can cause, and that is sexual abuse, at least in the Catholic Church. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. He contended that these values need to be maintained to maintain social stability. It is the social institution that deals with sacred things, that lie beyond our knowledge and control. Durkheim, Émile. Read British historian Niall Ferguson’s view at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/Protestant_work_ethic. A rock, for example, isn’t sacred or profane as it exists. The interaction between religious leaders and practitioners, the role of religion in the ordinary components of everyday life, and the ways people express religious values in social interactions—all might be topics of study to an interactionist. In his writing The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he contends that the Protestant work ethic influenced the development of capitalism. Translated by J. Swain. Religion is an agent of social control and thus strengthens social order. Explain the views of religion held by the conflict perspective. Religious faith and practice can enhance psychological well-being by being a source of comfort to people in times of distress and by enhancing their social interaction with others in places of worship. The feminist perspective is a conflict theory view that focuses specifically on gender inequality. But what would happen if religion were to decline? A cross is merely two lines or bars in the shape of a “t,” but to tens of millions of Christians it is a symbol with deeply religious significance. it is a divine decree from the Almighty. It examines the role that religion plays in our daily lives and the ways in which we interpret religious experiences. Karl Marx: Selected writings in sociology and social philosophy (T. B. Bottomore, Trans.). What he failed to predict was that the West would export its culture to the rest of the world and thus grip the entire world in its death throes. The narrow concept of religion, more often pressed by government officials than scholars of religion, needs reconsideration in the contemporary world. 2001. In providing answers, religion defines the spiritual world and spiritual forces, including divine beings. Mircea Eliade - Religion Is a Focus on the Sacred . He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the status quo. The Journal of Religion & Society is a cross-disciplinary, electronic journal published by the Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society at Creighton University.. Max Weber (1904) posited that, in Europe in his time, Protestants were more likely than Catholics to value capitalist ideology, and believed in hard work and savings. As you undoubtedly have heard, an unknown number of children were sexually abused by Catholic priests and deacons in the United States, Canada, and many other nations going back at least to the 1960s. The symbolic interactionist perspective emphasizes the ways in which individuals interpret their religious experiences and religious symbols. As Chapter 11 “Gender and Gender Inequality” discussed, religion also promotes gender inequality by presenting negative stereotypes about women and by reinforcing traditional views about their subordination to men (Klassen, 2009). Emerson, M. O., Monahan, S. C., & Mirola, W. A. (2009). By applying the methods of natural science to the study of society, Durkheim held that the source of religion and morality is the collective mind-set of society and that the cohesive bonds of social order result from common values in a society. Religion played a central role in the development of the Southern civil rights movement a few decades ago. The role of religion in society is definitely an influential subject. Given these estimates, the number of children who were abused probably runs into the thousands. Religion teaches people moral behavior and thus helps them learn how to be good members of society. Gundy-Volf, J. Society creates religion by defining certain phenomena as sacred and others as profane. The nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and deacons in the United States: Supplementary data analysis. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. He examined the effects of religion on economic activities and noticed that heavily Protestant societies—such as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germany—were the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. His century-old claim that the Protestant work ethic led to the development of capitalism has been one of the most important and controversial topics in the sociology of religion. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Table 17.1 “Theory Snapshot” summarizes what these perspectives say. For example, it helps answer questions like, “How was the world created?” “Why do we suffer?” “Is there a plan for our lives?” and “Is there an afterlife?” As another function, religion provides emotional comfort in times of crisis. We return to this function later. 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