Importance of Religion

In: Religion Topics

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Words 1562
Pages 7
J. Carpenter 1

Sociological Perspectives on Religion
John Carpenter
Sociology B1
CRN 12345
John Carpenter
January 1, 2012

J. Carpenter 2
Emile Durkheim (1995: Original 1912) defined religion as a unified system of beliefs, rituals, and practices that define and express the nature of sacred things in relationship to the profane things of the world and, from a sociological perspective, the importance of religion as a social institution cannot be overstated. Consider the fact that literally all major world religions promote a standard of behavior in keeping with the tenets of their particular system of belief. And, with few exceptions, this behavior is motivated by an individual desire for a positive experience in this life and hopeful expectations of an eternal life to come. This individual standard of behavior is shared by a community of believers and practised as a group within the context of the larger society. As a result, religion can have a considerable degree of influence over every other social institution and the nature of the various beliefs, rituals, and practices acquire a cultural significance.
In support of the functionalist perspective, and in keeping with a macro approach to sociology, Durkheim (1995: Original 1912) placed a far greater emphasis on the collective life or community than he did on the individual. The nature of individual behavior was always considered in relationship to the degree of influence held by the larger community. This is an important point if we are to understand Durkheim’s perspective of religion. For Durkheim, the unified system of beliefs, rituals, and practices associated with religion provided a community with collective representations that helped to create a sense of social order and establish the foundation for all other social relationships. These collective…...

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