Chapter 16 - Chapter 16: Religion The structure of society...

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Chapter 16: Religion The structure of society and one’s place in it influences one’s religious beliefs and practices Under some circumstances, religion creates societal cohesion, whereas in other circumstances it promotes social conflict. When religion creates societal cohesion, it also reinforces social inequality. Religion governs fewer aspects of many people’s lives than in the past. However, a religious revival has taken place in the United States and other parts of the world in recent decades, and many people still adhere to religious beliefs and practices. Historical information suggests that the major world religions were movements of moral and social improvement that arose in times of great adversity and were led by charismatic figures. As they consolidated, they became more conservative. Adults who were brought up in religious families attend religious services more frequently than adults who were brought up in nonreligous families. Attendance also increases with age and race. Introduction Personal Anecdote Religion is the common human response to the fact that we all stand at the edge of an abyss. The motivation for religion may be psychological, as William James argued. However, the content and intensity of our religious beliefs, and the form and frequency of our religious practices, are influenced by the structure of society and our place it. Sociology is a social science, and sociological truth is therefore based on theoretical interpretations of things that are seen. Questions of faith lie outside the province of sociology. Classical Approaches in the Sociology of Religion Durkheim: A Functionalist Approach Apart from drawing a huge audience, the Super Bowl generates a sense of what Durkheim would have called “Collective Effervescence.” That is, the Super Bowl excites us by making us feel part of something that is larger than us. Nonetheless, the Super Bowl meets Durkheim’s definition of a religions experience. Durkheim said that when people live together, they come to share common sentiments and values.
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Collective Conscience: is composed of the common sentiments and values that people share as a result of living together. Profane: refers to the secular, everyday world. Sacred: refers to the religious, transcendent world Totems: are object that symbolize the sacred. Rituals: are public practices designed to connect people to the sacred. The effect or function of rituals and of religion as a whole is to reinforce social solidarity, said Durkheim. Durkheim would have found support for his theory in research showing that the suicide rate dips during the two days preceding Super Bowl Sunday itself, just as it does for the last day of the World Series, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, and other collective celebrations. Religion, Conflict Theory, and Feminist Theory
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This note was uploaded on 05/31/2008 for the course SOCIOLOGY 001 taught by Professor Lovaglia during the Fall '07 term at University of Iowa.

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Chapter 16 - Chapter 16: Religion The structure of society...

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