Functionalist view on religion
This essay is to assess the functionalist theory and view that religion benefits both societies as a whole and its individual members and also to take in consideration their criticism, but to mainly focus on two sociologist Durkheim and Parsons.
Religion for sociologist is defined in three ways which are substantive, functional and social constructionist. The substantive definition of religion is focusing on the content or religious belief in god or the supernatural. The functional definition is its social or psychological functions it performs for society and individual. The last definition of religion for sociologist is social construction of it which is that there is no single universal definition of religion since so many exist and there is no consensus term of religion among any of them.
For the functionalist sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), he developed the idea that religious institutions played a central role in creating and maintain value consensus, order and solidarity in society. He was known for the three contributions to the theory of religion which where: the sacred and the profane, Totemism, the collective conscience. For Durkheim, the key feature of religion was not a belief in gods, spirits or the supernatural, but a fundamental distinction between the sacred (things set apart, and forbidden, that inspire feelings of awe, fear and wonder and are surrounded by taboos and prohibitions) and the profane (things that have no social significance) found in all religions. A religion is not a set of beliefs, it involves rituals or practices in relation to the scared these rituals are collective (performed by social groups). The powerful feeling in believers indicates to Durkheim that this is because they are symbols representing something of great power. Durkheim suggests this can only be society itself, since society is the only thing powerful enough to command such feelings. For Durkheim although scared symbols...