Sociological Theories of Religion

Sociological Theories of Religion - Sociological Theories...

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Sociological Theories of Religion The ideas of three early sociological theorists continue to strongly influence the sociology of religion:  Durkheim, Weber, and Marx. Even though none of these three men was particularly religious, the power that religion holds over  people and societies interested them all. They believed that religion is essentially an illusion;  because culture and location influence religion to such a degree, the idea that religion presents a  fundamental truth of existence seemed rather improbable to them. They also speculated that, in  time, the appeal and influence of religion on the modern mind would lessen. Durkheim and functionalism Emile Durkheim, the founder of functionalism, spent much of his academic career studying religions,  especially those of small societies. The totetism, or primitive kinship system of Australian aborigines  as an “elementary” form of religion, primarily interested him. This research formed the basis of  Durkheim's 1921 book,  The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life , which is certainly the best- known study on the sociology of religion. Durkheim viewed religion within the context of the entire  society and acknowledged its place in influencing the thinking and behavior of the members of  society.  Durkheim found that people tend to separate religious symbols, objects, and rituals, which are  sacred, from the daily symbols, objects, and routines of existence referred to as the profane. Sacred  objects are often believed to have divine properties that separate them from profane objects. Even in 
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Sociological Theories of Religion - Sociological Theories...

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