Emile Durkheim And Karl Marx On Religion

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Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim on Religion Religion plays a very interesting role in the world of Sociology because it is such a deep seeded and integral thread that holds many different parts of society together. A religion can be seen as a unified system of beliefs and practices which are relative to sacred things and beliefs (Giddens 1972, p.224). It can shape ones thoughts and feelings and gives people a sense of hope and something to believe in. However, although virtually no sociologist will deny the importance of religion in different societies, they differ greatly on their views on how it can fit into social and/or economic theory. Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx are two very well known sociologists whose opinions on religion differ a great deal. Durkheim put great importance on the solidifying nature of religion; it’s ability to create rituals, which rely on symbols and in turn form social facts. Marx, on the other hand, has one of the most famous quotes regarding religion, stating that it is the ‘opium for the masses’. This only begins to tell us where he stands on the idea of religion in sociology. Marx focuses more on the idea that religion is one of those social institutions, which are dependent upon the material and economic sources and resources in a given society. Although Marx and Durkheim differ greatly on their analysis of religion we will see how each one has made it an integral part of their own sociological theories. There was once a time when the societies of the world were nothing more than a ruling class and a class that was ruled. In these feudal societies classes were set. There was little chance for a member of the ruling class to cross over to the oppressed working-class or from the working class to the ruling class. Every individual within each class had the routine for each day set out for him or her. There was little change in the
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