Durkheim was particularly concerned with a perplexing question, ‘How can human societies be held together when they are generally composed of individuals and social groups with diverse interests and aspirations’. Explain what Émile Durkheim tried to understand about religion. Those … For example, India’s traditional caste system defined the social structure of society. It is thus a source of security and confidence, and also of happiness and success in this world. (Original work published 1915). In modern world, religion has also become a supporting psychology—a form of psychotherapy. Religion Serves a Means to Provide Answers to Ultimate Questions 7. Religion provides an explanation for events that seem difficult to understand. Religion, he acknowledged, is a matter of faith, and faith is not provable or disprovable through scientific inquiry. Durkheim did not try to prove or disprove religious beliefs. Religion then legitimizes society. Copyright 10. Religious beliefs can influence the conduct of those who believe in them. In the end, it may be said that in spite of being regarded as superstition, religion is persisting for such a long time as a social institution because of its varied functions cited above that it performs for the welfare of the individual and the society both. Durkheim, É. It enables them to cope effectively with the many doubts and indignation of everyday life. Provides Rites of Passage: Religion helps us in performing ceremonies and rituals related to rites of … Accordingly, Chapter 17 “Religion”, Section 17.2 “Religion in Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspective” examines key aspects of the history of religion and its practice across the globe. It provides sacred sanction for the social order and for its basic values and meanings. The concepts of karma and transmigration among Hindus and Jesus Christ as son of God and prayer among Christians seek to provide such fortitude and strength. Religion as an Integrative Force 2. A religion in society is believed to be a dominant instrument to control the society.So, given above are the basic social institutions that contribute in the well-being and growth of a society. Religion helps us in performing ceremonies and rituals related to rites of passage (birth, marriage, death and other momentous events) which give meaning and a social significance to our life. Psychologizing Religion 10. Innumerable are the psychoses and neuroses that have religious content’. While conservatives have valued religion for its protective function, radicals have also often recog­nized that religion can be a support of the established order, and have, consequently, been critical of religion. For example, Bangladeshi immigrants in India, after settling in their new social environment, came to be identified as Indian Muslims. According to one theory, caste system is a creation of the priesthood (Brahmins)—the uppermost stratum of this system, but it also served the interests of political rulers by granting legitimacy to social inequality. A religion is that institution which studies, practices and believes the existence of God and the mystery of life and death. Religion offers consolation to oppressed peoples also by giving them hope that they can achieve salvation and eternal happiness in the afterlife. 2. Friedrich Engels, a life-long close associate of Karl Marx, once noted that religion could make the masses ‘submissive to the behests of the masters it had pleased God to place over them’. He said, ‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of heartless world …. It functions to reinforce the collective unity or social solidarity of a group. Those who share a common ideology develop a collective identity and a sense of fellowship. It gives people certain ultimate values and ends to hold in common. More specifically, religion is the set of beliefs and practices regarding sacred things that help a society understand the meaning and purpose of life. Religion clearly plays an important role in American life. Content Guidelines 2. Religion provides a system of beliefs around which people may gather to belong to something greater than themselves in order to have their personal beliefs reinforced by the group and its rituals. Sharing the same religion or religious interpretation of the meaning of life unites people in a cohesive and building moral order. According to Thomas Luckman (1983), ‘The prime function of religion is to give personal meaning to life’. Rather, Durkheim tried to understand the role played by religion in social life and the impact on religion of social structure and social change. It provides peace of mind, promises prosperity and success in life, as well as effective and happy human relations. Generally, religion is regarded as an impediment in the path of social change but many religious groups, by criticizing existing rules of social morality and social injustice, and community or government actions, help in bringing about social change. Religious beliefs and practices involve the sacred: they involve things our senses cannot readily observe, and they involve things that inspire in us awe, reverence, and even fear. In feudalism, and now in capitalism, religious control of sexuality is an important vehicle for the production of legitimate offspring. It is the opiate of the people.’ Whereas Marx had seen religion as a consequence of the economy, Weber believed that religion helped to shape a new economic system. Before publishing your articles on this site, please read the following pages: 1. Weber’s major theoretical point to be noted here is that ideas can change history, and in so doing can contribute to changes in the material context of life. For instance, it helps in bringing change (sobriety) to seemingly hopeless alcoholics. Religion as an Agent of De-politicization 13. Historical work on religion reminds us of the importance of religion since the earliest societies, while comparative work on contemporary religion reminds us of its importance throughout the world today.


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