They are among the founding thinkers of modern sociology. This â¦ Social theorist Ãmile Durkheim defined religion as a âunified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred thingsâ (1915). This article is organized around the following points. Hechter, M. 1997. âSociological Rational Choice Theory.â Annual Review of Sociology 23:191â214. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. In conversation with Christopher Cotter, Brown outlines rival traditions within the history of religion and demonstrates what each has contributed to our understanding of secularisation. These universals, and the differences in the way societies and individuals experience religion, provide rich material for sociological study. Four main reasonshave been suggested for this (Frankenberry & Thie 1994: 2â4). Sociological approaches to the study of Religion in the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Weber Inger (2006) points out that some of the prominent contributors to this debate are well-grounded in the sociology field. Religion is a social institution, because it includes beliefs and practices that serve the needs of society. Let’s explore how scholars applying these paradigms understand religion. Another illustration of religious beliefs is the creation stories we find in different religions. Durkheim is generally considered the first sociologist who analyzed religion in terms of its societal impact. Greeley, Andrew. From this perspective, religion serves several purposes, like providing answers to spiritual mysteries, offering emotional comfort, and creating a place for social interaction and social control. Max Weber (1904) posited that, in Europe in his time, Protestants were more likely than Catholics to value capitalist ideology, and believed in hard work and savings. (Photo courtesy of James Emery/flickr), Many religions, including the Catholic faith, have long prohibited women from becoming spiritual leaders. Translated by George Simpson. Another illustration of religious beliefs is the creation stories we find in different religions. The feminist perspective is a conflict theory view that focuses specifically on gender inequality. In fact his ideas later contributed to the formation of sociological theory of religion. Moreover, it can foster group cohesion and integration. Finke, R., and R. Stark. Modern academic sociology began with the study of religion in Emile Durkheimâs 1897 The Study of Suicide in which he explored the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics. Subject:Sociology Paper: Religion and society. 2 hours Structural theories Outcome 1 PC (a) & (b) and 2 PC (a) â¢ Examine consensus theory. Above all, he believed religion is about community: It binds people together (social cohesion), promotes behavior consistency (social control), and offers strength during life’s transitions and tragedies (meaning and purpose). Sociological Theories of Religion The ideas of three early sociological theorists continue to strongly influence the sociology of religion: Durkheim, Weber, and Marx. As stated earlier, French sociologist Ãmile Durkheim (1858â1917) defined religion as a âunified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred thingsâ (1915). Employees also seek autonomy and fulfillment in their jobs, not just wages. covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may Functionalists contend that religion serves several functions in society. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1. A standard definition of religion in sociology is that it is: A set of general explanations about existence which includes the supernatural. Weber thought the emphasis on community in Catholicism versus the emphasis on individual achievement in Protestantism made a difference. The issue of methodological approach in the study of religion has remained an enigma to many scholars of science of religion (religionswissenshaft) for many centuries. The study of religion emerged as a formal discipline during the 19th century, when the methods and approaches of history, philology, literary criticism, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and other fields were brought to bear on the task of determining the history, origins, and functions of religion. His century-old claim that the Protestant work ethic led to the development of capitalism has been one of the most important and controversial topics in the sociology of religion. Rational Choice Theory: Can Economic Theory Be Applied to Religion? For more discussion on the study of sociology and religion, check out the following blog: http://openstaxcollege.org/l/immanent_frame/. (The modern use of “work ethic” comes directly from Weber’s Protestant ethic, although it has now lost its religious connotations.). Working hard also doesnât seem to have any relationship with Catholic or Protestant religious beliefs anymore, or those of other religions; information age workers expect talent and hard work to be rewarded by material gain and career advancement. By this reasoning, even if traditional religion disappeared, society wouldn’t necessarily dissolve. Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. 2001. In terms of religion, feminist theorists assert that, although women are typically the ones to socialize children into a religion, they have traditionally held very few positions of power within religions. German philosopher, journalist, and revolutionary socialistÂ Karl MarxÂ (1818â1883) also studied the social impact of religion. For Durkheim, religion was a force for cohesion that helped bind the members of society to the group, while Weber believed religion could be understood as something separate from society. Many religions, including the Catholic faith, have long prohibited women from becoming spiritual leaders. These universals, and the differences in how societies and individuals experience religion, provide rich material for sociological study. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. To interactionists, beliefs and experiences are not sacred unless individuals in a society regard them as sacred. Conflict theorists are critical of the way many religions promote the idea that believers should be satisfied with existing circumstances because they are divinely ordained. He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the status quo. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. They are among the founding thinkers of modern sociology. Despite their different views, these social theorists all believed in the centrality of religion to society. In jobs where roles and tasks are highly prescribed, workers have no opportunity to make decisions. By the end of this section, you will be able to: From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice that define what people consider to be sacred or spiritual (Fasching and deChant 2001; Durkheim 1915). Religious rituals are behaviors or practices that are either required or expected of the members of a particular group, such as bar mitzvah or confession of sins (Barkan and Greenwood 2003). German philosopher, journalist, and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx (1818–1883) also studied the social impact of religion. Throughout history, and in societies across the world, leaders have used religious narratives, symbols, and traditions in an attempt to give more meaning to life and understand the universe. Second, in the twentiethcentury, once philosophy of religion was â¦ Marx considered religion inseparable from the economy and the worker. Marxist Perspective On Religion And Liberation Theology. Religion and Health Concepts of health and illness in human society originated from traditional religious views about life and death. A few religions and religious denominations are more gender equal, but male dominance remains the norm of most. Moreover, religion is a cultural universal found in all social groups. Weber noted that certain kinds of Protestantism supported the pursuit of material gain by motivating believers to work hard, be successful, and not spend their profits on frivolous things. Sociology has gradually expanded its focus to include more diverse subjects such as health, medical, penal institutions, the Internet, or the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. Critics of RCT argue that it doesn’t fit well with human spiritual needs, and many sociologists disagree that the costs and rewards of religion can even be meaningfully measured or that individuals use a rational balancing process regarding religious affiliation. Units of Analysis Even though none of these three men was particularly religious, the power that religion holds over people and societies interested them all. We recommend using a Rewards are the intangible benefits in terms of belief and satisfactory explanations about life, death, and the supernatural, as well as social rewards from membership. Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge. Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to âthe divine.â This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. To interactionists, beliefs and experiences are not sacred unless individuals in a society regard them as sacred. But if someone makes it into a headstone, or another person uses it for landscaping, it takes on different meanings—one sacred, one profane. Some form of religion is found in every known culture, and it is usually practiced in a public way by a group. In studying religion, sociologists distinguish between what they term the experience, beliefs, and rituals of a religion. The Sociological Approach to Religion. For Durkheim, Weber, and Marx, who were reacting to the great social and economic upheaval of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century in Europe, religion was an integral part of society. A few religions and religious denominations are more gender equal, but male dominance remains the norm of most. The theory proposes that people are self-interested, though not necessarily selfish, and that people make rational choicesâchoices that can reasonably be expected to maximize positive outcomes while minimizing negative outcomes. He famously argued that religion âis the opium of the peopleâ (1844). Discuss how these meet social needs. The information age has increased the rapid pace of production expected in many jobs. Read more about functionalist views on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/Grinnell_functionalism, symbolic interactionist view on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/flat_Earth, and women in the clergy at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/women_clergy. Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to âthe divine.â This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwel. Conflict theorists view religion as an institution that helps maintain patterns of social inequality. Then, research a religion that you donât know much about. By applying the methods of natural science to the study of society, Durkheim held that the source of religion and morality is the collective mind-set of society and that the cohesive bonds of social order result from common values in a society. The extraordinary range of methods and frameworks can be helpfully summed up regarding the classic distinction between the natural-scientific and human-scientific approaches. In this framework, RCT also explains the development and decline of churches, denominations, sects, and even cults; this limited part of the very complex RCT theory is the only aspect well supported by research data. He examined the effects of religion on economic activities and noticed that heavily Protestant societiesâsuch as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germanyâwere the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. The feminist perspective is a conflict theory view that focuses specifically on gender inequality. Social scientists recognize that religion exists as an organized and integrated set of beliefs, behaviors, and norms centered on basic social needs and values. Sociologists Roger Finke and Rodney Stark (1988) first considered the use of RCT to explain some aspects of religious behavior, with the assumption that there is a basic human need for religion in terms of providing belief in a supernatural being, a sense of meaning in life, and belief in life after death. A scientific explanation for why something occurs canât reasonably be supported by the fact that it does occur. This is because it tries to explain some of the religious issues from a sociological point of view. Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to “the divine.” This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. It provides social support and social networking and offers a place to meet others who hold similar values and a place to seek help (spiritual and material) in times of need. He examined the effects of religion on economic activities and noticed that heavily Protestant societies—such as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germany—were the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. This objective investigation may include the use of both quantitative methods (surveys, polls, demographic and census analysis) and qualitative approaches such as participant observation, interviewing, and analysis of â¦ Critics also believe this theory overuses economic terminology and structure and point out that terms such as “rational” and “reward” are unacceptably defined by their use; they would argue that the theory is based on faulty logic and lacks external, empirical support. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Other Writings, translated by Peter R. Baehr and Gordon C. Wells. Religious beliefs are specific ideas members of a particular faith hold to be true, such as that Jesus Christ was the son of God, or that reincarnation exists. While some people think of religion as something individual because religious beliefs can be highly personal, religion is also a social institution. Employees also seek autonomy and fulfillment in their jobs, not just wages. Moreover, it can foster group cohesion and integration. Feminist theorists focus on gender inequality and promote leadership roles for women in religion. Functionalists believe religion meets many important needs for people, including group cohesion and companionship. The growth of various disciplines in the 19th century, notably psychology and sociology, stimulated a more analytic approach to religions, while at the same time theology became more sophisticated and, in a sense, scientific as it began to be affected by and thus to make use of historical and other methods. Common sense vs. sociological approach Outcome 3 PC (a) â¢ Examine why we study sociology using notion of âthe sociological imaginationâ. In his writing The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he contends that the Protestant work ethic influenced the development of capitalism. Fasching, Darrel, and Dell deChant. then you must include on every physical page the following attribution: If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, Another assumption of RCT is that religious organizations can be viewed in terms of âcostsâ and ârewards.â Costs are not only monetary requirements, but are also the time, effort, and commitment demands of any particular religious organization. Want to cite, share, or modify this book? Social theorist Émile Durkheim defined religion as a âunified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred thingsâ (1915). This power dynamic has been used by Christian institutions for centuries to keep poor people poor and to teach them that they shouldn’t be concerned with what they lack because their “true” reward (from a religious perspective) will come after death. Are there some objects, such as cups, candles, or clothing, that would be considered profane in normal settings but are considered sacred in special circumstances or when used in specific ways? The Sociological Approach to ReligionReligion describes the beliefs, values, and practices related to sacred or spiritual concerns. Durkheim, Ãmile. Because interactionists study one-on-one, everyday interactions between individuals, a scholar using this approach might ask questions focused on this dynamic. The work ethic in the information age has been affected by tremendous cultural and social change, just as workers in the mid- to late nineteenth century were influenced by the wake of the Industrial Revolution. To him, sacred meant extraordinary—something that inspired wonder and that seemed connected to the concept of “the divine.” Durkheim argued that “religion happens” in society when there is a separation between the profane (ordinary life) and the sacred (1915). Outline and assess one of the main approaches to the study of religions. Religious explanations of these concepts are presumed to be more satisfactory than scientific explanations, which may help to account for the continuation of strong religious connectedness in countries such as the United States, despite predictions of some competing theories for a great decline in religious affiliation due to modernization and religious pluralism. Be helpfully summed up regarding the classic distinction between the natural-scientific and human-scientific approaches which is a institution... Sociology using notion of âthe sociological imaginationâ making is required views, these service may! 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