Sociology Of Religion

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The classical works of Marx, Weber and Durkheim are central to the formation of modern day sociological interpretations. Within the study of social life, Marx, Weber and Durkheim have their own distinctive characteristics on how they perceive the structure of society. The aim of this essay is to explore and evaluate some of the key sociological perspectives held by Marx, Weber, and Durkheim in relation to the subject of religion. In order to undertake this it is necessary to clarify a general definition of the sociology of religion. The sociology of religion endeavours to ascertain the explanations of social life in regards to religion and the diverse roles it plays within society. However, its goal is not to concern itself with the competing complex belief systems with in society. (Davie, 2007 p. 6) Karl Marx was throughout his life a steadfast atheist. As a socialist he was against the socialism of Christianity. (Aldridge, 2005, p.60) Marx found what he believed to be a full explanation of religion in Ludwig Feuerbach’s work entitled ‘The Essences of Christianity’. The argument set forth by Feuerbach was that God was an extension of humanity; therefore Christianity was the vehicle to fulfil aspirations for perfection. Thus, the masses, in their worship of God, could project their wishes onto benevolent supernatural being. (Aldridge, 2005, p. 61) According to Karl Marx in his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of the heartless world, the soul in a place without soul. It is the opium of the people”. (Clark, 1981, p.14) Karl Marx’s view on social life is based on the objective laws and the growth of nature and society. According to Davie, It is within this view that Marx takes an empirical approach to his opposition to religion. There are two key elements to
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