lec040710 - Sociology 101 Professor Deborah Carr Topic:...

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Sociology 101 Professor Deborah Carr Topic: Health/Medical Sociology Wednesday April 7, 2010 Religion I. The sociological study of religion A. What is religion? 1. There are no known societies that lack religion; religious beliefs and practices vary across cultures, and across time periods. 2. Religion comprises: a. Forms of culture, including shared beliefs, values, norms, and material conditions/objects (crosses, menorahs, religious tracts) that create a common identity among group members. b. Beliefs take the form of ritualized practices (e.g., prayer, confession, rites associated with weddings, christenings, funerals, communion/confirmation, etc.). c. Provides feeling that life is ultimately meaningful. Persons who often experience adversity are thus more likely to turn to religion. Levels of religiosity often increase after a tragic event which people cannot make sense of (e.g., death of a child; tragedy like 9-11 which triggered high levels of attendance at religious services in the months following the attacks). B. How Do Sociologists Study Religion? 1. Not concerned with whether a set of religious beliefs is “true” or “false.” This is not the job of a social scientist. 2. Concerned with the social organization of religion; such as how people practice, the hierarchy or level of decentralization of a particular religious group, and the processes through which people join or leave a particular denomination. 3. Views religion as a major source of solidarity in that they offer a common set of norms and values. Research dating back to Durkheim shows that people involved in a religious community and who regularly attend services have better mental and physical well-being than less religious persons (although researchers now recognize that studies have not ascertained the direction of causation. It is possible that only healthy people are capable of attending services!)> 4. Explain the appeal of religion in terms of social forces, rather than personal, spiritual, or other individual-level psychological factors. II. Theories of Religion A. Overview. 1. Sociological approaches to religion have been heavily influenced by classic theorists including Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. a. All three believed that religion is fundamentally an illusion;
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This note was uploaded on 11/20/2011 for the course SOCIOLOGY 920:101 taught by Professor Carr during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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lec040710 - Sociology 101 Professor Deborah Carr Topic:...

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