", Central to Marx's theories was the oppressive economic situation in which he dwelt. Hence Marx's famous line – "religion is the opium of the people", as it soothes them and dulls their senses to the pain of oppression. The knowledge we have about the world is provided for us by the languages and discourses we encounter in the times and places in which we live our lives. Peter Berger, an American sociologist, considers secularization is the result of a larger sociostructural crisis in religion is caused by pluralism. For example, people born and raised in Hindu, Jewish, or American families have identities as Hindus, Jews, or Americans, independently of their beliefs or actions. Weber argues for making sense of religious action on its own terms. By this reasoning, even if traditional religion disappeared, society wouldn’t necessarily dissolve. The traditional focuses of sociology have included social stratification, social class, culture, social mobility, religion, secularization, law, and deviance. They have mainstream "safe" beliefs and practices relative to those of the general population. Workers are devalued to the level of a commodity – a thing …" From this objectification comes alienation.  In relation to the processes of rationalization associated with the development of modernity, it was predicted in the works of many classical sociologists that religion would decline. Hinduism is a complex phenomenon that requires a many-sided approach. Religion is a social institution, because it includes beliefs and practices that serve the needs of society. Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. Nineteenth-century rationalist writers, reflecting the evolutionist spirits of their times, tended to explain the lack of rationality and the dominance of false beliefs in pre-modern worlds in terms of the deficient mental equipment of their inhabitants. 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. The works of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Max Weber (1864-1920) emphasized the relationship between religion and the economic or social structure of society. • Christiano, Kevin J., et al., (2nd ed., 2008), Sociology of Religion: Contemporary Developments, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Religion is an expression of our collective consciousness, which is the fusion of all of our individual consciousnesses, which then creates a reality of its own. Still others suggest that functional alternatives to traditional religion, such as nationalism and patriotism, have emerged to promote social solidarity. Of these, Durkheim and Weber are often more difficult to understand, especially in light of the lack of context and examples in their primary texts. Religion’s Influence in Contemporary Society, Readings in the Sociology of Religion, Ohio: Charles E. Merril: 38–56.  In short, presupposed secularization as a decline in religiosity might seem to be a myth, depending on its definition and the definition of its scope. This objective investigation may include the use both of quantitative methods (surveys, polls, demographic and census analysis) and of qualitative approaches (such as participant observation, interviewing, and analysis of archival, historical and documentary materials).. Bruce and Yearley (2006) defined religion “as a social phenomenon that consists of beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose.” For Weber, religion is best understood as it responds to the human need for theodicy and soteriology. One of the differences between these theories is whether they view capitalism as positive or problematic. (2009). 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. 1-2, pp. Some of these beliefs, such as magic and witchcraft, had disappeared, while others, such as religion, had become marginalized. This article is organized around the following points. Some scholars have recently noted that this is a contradictory (or dialectical) metaphor, referring to religion as both an expression of suffering and a protest against suffering.. Existential questions about the mysteries of human existence, about who we are and why we are here, have become less and less significant. In other words, numbers of members might still be growing, but this does not mean that all members are faithfully following the rules of pious behaviors expected. This question led Durkheim to posit that religion is not just a social creation but something that represents the power of society: When people celebrate sacred things, they celebrate the power of their society. Social change is about changes in prevailing forms of knowledge. The public face and much of the public's awareness of religious diversity are filtered through the mosaic of symbols that demarcate religious differences. Religion was considered to be an extremely important social variable in the work of all three. " As such, the crux of his arguments was that humans are best guided by reason. Conflict theorists view religion as an institution that helps maintain patterns of social inequality. Social scientists recognize that religion exists as an organized and integrated set of beliefs, behaviors, and norms centered on basic social needs and values. Contemporary sociology of religion may also encompass the sociology of irreligion (for instance, in the analysis of secular-humanist belief systems). When churches or sects become denominations, there are also some changes in their characteristics. The job of the historian is to chart these changes and identify the reasons for them. Modern life became increasingly subject to medical control – the medical gaze, as Foucault called it.  Therefore, all societies have forms of knowledge that perform this psychological task. The antithesis to this alienation is freedom. The task of building a scientific understanding of religion is a central part of the sociological enterprise. Contemporary debates have centered on issues such as secularization, civil religion, and the cohesiveness of religion in the context of globalization and multiculturalism. Christianity teaches that those who gather up riches and power in this life will almost certainly not be rewarded in the next ("it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle …") while those who suffer oppression and poverty in this life while cultivating their spiritual wealth will be rewarded in the Kingdom of God. According to Foucault, the rise of body-centered discourses necessarily involved a process of secularization. In his magnum opus Economy and Society Weber distinguished three ideal types of religious attitudes:. Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. Others argue that religion has become an individual, rather than a collective, organized affair. 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. (1972) ‘On the Study of Religious Commitment’ in J. E. Faulkner (ed.) 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). Weber also did considerable work on world religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. A rock, for example, isn’t sacred or profane as it exists. In the field work that led to his famous Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim, a secular Frenchman, looked at anthropological data of Indigenous Australians. The inability of science to offer psychological and emotional comfort explains the presence and influence of non-scientific knowledge in human lives, even in rational world. However, as the division of labour makes the individual seem more important (a subject that Durkheim treats extensively in his famous The Division of Labour in Society), religious systems increasingly focus on individual salvation and conscience. The Functionalism Perspective is a sociological approach that highlights the process which society is organized to ensure stability.  The United States is both highly religious and pluralistic, standing out among other industrialized and wealthy nations in this regard. Religion, for Durkheim, is not "imaginary", although he does deprive it of what many believers find essential. According to Durkheim, people see religion as contributing to the health and continuation of society in general. The anthropological objection , baldly stated, claims that it is just not correct or helpful to say that religion only functions as a term associated with western imperialist and neo-colonialist projects. Sociologists Roger Finke and Rodney Stark (1988) first considered the use of RCT to explain some aspects of religious behavior, with the assumption that there is a basic human need for religion in terms of providing belief in a supernatural being, a sense of meaning in life, and belief in life after death. from the philosophy of religion in that it does not set out to assess the validity of religious beliefs. American mosaic, 24, 39. In particular, sociologists use the words 'cult' and 'sect' without negative connotations, even though the popular use of these words is often pejorative.. Functionalists argue that religion is a conservative force and that this is a positive function for society and for individuals. The third chapter—“The critical theory of religion: The house that Siebert built”—focuses on one theoretical approach to the sociological study of religion—that of the Frankfort School. He also acknowledges that other forms of belief and meaning, such as those provided by art, music, literature, popular culture (a specifically modern phenomenon), drug taking, political protest, and so on are important for many people. Pawel Zaleski "Ideal Types in Max Weber's Sociology of Religion: Some Theoretical Inspirations for a Study of the Religious Field". Durkheim, Marx, and Weber had very complex and developed theories about the nature and effects of religion. Social theorist Émile Durkheim defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915). It provides social support and social networking and offers a place to meet others who hold similar values and a place to seek help (spiritual and material) in times of need. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (. Gellner doesn't claim that non-scientific knowledge is in the process of dying out. In terms of religion, feminist theorists assert that, although women are typically the ones to socialize children into a religion, they have traditionally held very few positions of power within religions. There is a basic premise continuum along which religions fall, ranging from the protest-like orientation of sects to the equilibrium maintaining churches.  When church leaders become too involved in secular issues, sects start to splinter off the existing church. People need to know, for example, why there is undeserved good fortune and suffering in the world. Andrew McKinnon (2010) "Elective Affinities of the Protestant Ethic: Weber and the Chemistry of Capitalism" Sociological Theory vol 28 no. In that sense, religion may be seen as declining because of its waning ability to influence behavior. While some people think of religion as something individual because religious beliefs can be highly personal, religion is also a social institution. For example, Charles Y. Glock is best known for his five-dimensional scheme of the nature of religious commitment. Weber gives religion credit for shaping a person's image of the world, and this image of the world can affect their view of their interests, and ultimately how they decide to take action. Whereas Durkheim saw religion as a source of social stability, German sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864–1920) believed it was a precipitator of social change. What influence this i…, To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral…, Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the main cause o…. " This is a functional definition of religion, meaning that it explains what religion does in social life: essentially, it unites societies. Rationalists see the history of modern societies as the rise of scientific knowledge and the subsequent decline of non-rational belief. The History of Religion as a Sociological Concept. Wilson, Bryan (1982). Whereas the sociology of religion broadly differs from theology in assuming indifference to the supernatural, theorists tend to acknowledge socio-cultural reification of religious practice. Thus, to propagate freedom means to present individuals with the truth and give them a choice to accept or deny it. Sociological theorists such as Emile Durkheim, the founder of functionalism, Karl Marx, the founder of conflict theory, and George H. Mead, the founder of symbolic interactionism all had different and some of the same thoughts on the effects religion had on each of these sociological theories. However, both assumed that modernization and capitalism would diminish the hold of religion. 2011 19 Sociological Approach to Research on Religion: Bangladesh Perspectives K.A.M. As stated earlier, French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915). 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. From this perspective, the existence of non-rational accounts of reality can be explained by the benefits they offer to society. Religion and ‘The Study of Religions’ has many approaches which try to investigate the core of what religion is and what it means to the people who practice it. For example, according to Paul James and Peter Mandaville: Religion and globalization have been intertwined with each other since the early empires attempted to extend their reach across what they perceived to be world-space. These views offer different lenses through which to study and understand society: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory. He also separated magic as pre-religious activity. People who actually separate themselves from their religious legacy are termed apostates or traitors and may be subject to punishment.  Over time, the habits associated with the spirit of capitalism lost their religious significance, and the rational pursuit of profit became an aim in its own right. For more such notes, Articles, News & views Join our Telegram.. 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