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Assess the view that sociological arguments and evidence support functionalist views of the role and functions of religion in

  • Essay length: 1219 words
  • Submitted: 18/10/2007
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GCSE Sociology

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Assess the view that sociological arguments and evidence support functionalist views of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society.

Functionalists see society as based upon consensus, where each institution functions to help society work together as a whole with shared ways of thinking and behaving. So for functionalists such as Durkheim and Parsons religion is a way of integration and social control. They believe that the shared rituals and collective worship of religion help reinforce the consensual values and norms of society, and that without these shared values society could not function. Secondly it is thought to be a form of social control, providing divine backing and answers for society's rules, so people will abide by them. Functionalists such as Malinowski also believe that it is a way of coming to terms with life challenging events like death, marriage etc. For example the religious ceremonies enable individuals to cope with the life crisis by controlling their stress and anxiety whilst getting support ensuring they remain part of society.

There is also the concept of civil religion, Durkheim argues that religion is in actual fact the worship of society and not a supernatural god. He claims

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