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Assess the view that sociological arguments and evidence support the Functionalist view of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society. Functionalists believe that religion is a conservative force

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Sociology Assess the view that sociological arguments and evidence support the Functionalist view of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society. Functionalists believe that religion is a conservative force, and an institution which adds to the requirements of society. They say it ultimately operates as an agency of socialisation. Durkheim (1912) said that all societies are separated into the profane and sacred and that religion is a combined structure consisting of beliefs and practices which are associated to sacred items. Durkheim also stated that religion is used as a collective conscience used to avoid anomie. Bellah agreed with Durkheim, although related religion to modern society, and civil religion. Malinowski disagreed with Durkheim, saying that religion was a coping strategy to avoid anxiety provoking situations rather than a worship of society. ...read more.


A main sociological argument which can be compared to Functionalism is Marxism. Marxism agrees that religion is a conservative force, although it is not a positive force or valuable to society. Marxism says that religion is used to reproduce, preserve and legitimise class inequality; it is seen as an 'opiate of the masses' and lulls the working class into a state of false consciousness. Althusser suggested religion is an 'ideological apparatus'. Although, Marxism does fail to take into account secularisation, and although Marxism argues it isn't a positive force, it has been in some cases for example by getting rid of ruling elites. Weber described religion as a radical force and suggested society is a result of religion. Weber bases his approach more on detailed studies of real religion such as Protestantism, Buddhism and Hinduism rather than trying to define religion like Durkheim and Marx. ...read more.


Also, polytheistic religions have females and celebrate women and have a safer view of God. Functionalism concludes that religion represents the collective consciousness, which makes social life achievable. Religion also promotes social unity, and brings together the members of society. They also add that religion ultimately helps individuals face up to life by providing them with a feeling of confidence and eagerness. Durkheim has been criticised for his definition of religion, and sociologists have asked, 'is it possible to have society without religion?', and 'if so what maintains social solidarity in society?' Through looking at sociological arguments such as Marxism and Feminism, I conclude that although these views do share a few of the Functionalist opinions of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society, overall they have different outlooks on religion and its effect on society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Maria Ridley M56 ...read more.

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