• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Evaluate Marxist and Functionalist Views of Religion.

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate Marxist and Functionalist Views of Religion Definitions of religion tend to be either substantive or functional. Substantive definitions try to uncover the essence of religion, in other words what religion is. Functional approaches place more emphasis on the effect of a religion, which means what a religion does. Religion is one of the major social institutions in society. Many sociologists believe that religion has three typical characteristics these are, "1) An organised collectively of individuals, with 2) a shared system of beliefs and 3) a set of approved activities and prac- tices." (Taylor, P (1995)) Religious groups can have significant affects on the socialisation process. In Christian societies the Ten Commandments show how social norms can be integrated by religious beliefs. Functionalists believe that belief in Gods and Spirits originate in ancestral spirits of dead relatives. They beliefs are that souls represent presence of social values. Therefore worshipping souls shows that they are again worshipping a social group or a society. Functionalists also believe that religion helps us when we are in a crisis. Worshipping sacred things also brings social solidarity and social unity. ...read more.


It also ignores frequent examples of internal divisions within a community. Through the discussion of religion the topic of measuring religiosity has been brought up. People have thought they are indicators that may be possible to measure degrees of religiousness. Particular indicators may apply more to one individual, group, or religion than others at any particular time. The measuring of religiousness is explained through five dimensions of religiosity. The five dimensions are Belief, Practice, Experience, Knowledge, and Consequence. The Belief dimension refers to the core beliefs of a religion. Practice is the acts of worship carried out by people. The Experience dimension refers to the expectation that religiosity involves subjective feelings and perceptions. The Knowledge dimension refers to the extent of understanding the basic tenets of a religion, and the Consequence dimension extends the idea of religious commitment beyond the first four criteria and focuses on their effects of everyday life. There are two essential elements in the Marxist perspective on religion. The first is descriptive, and the second perspective is evaluative. Marx described religion as a dependant variable. ...read more.


Marx argues that religion not only has a drug-like effect on the masses but also functions for the dominant class in sustaining the status quo. Religion justifies for them their social and political status as well as maintaining their position by diverting the revolutionary potential of the oppressed. There are similarities with Durkheim in the sense that Marx seems to be explaining away religion by regarding it as purely of social origin. There are many current dilemmas with the sociology of religion. Sociologists study the edges of religion but never seem to explore the details in the middle. Many sociologists have assumed that the picture in the middle is blurred because it is fading away. A hundred years ago, sociologists predicted the gradual decline and even the disappearance of religion. Religion can contribute both to social integration and to conflict. Functionalist's approaches have tendered to emphasize integrative effects. Marxist analyses of religion traditionally present it as a powerful ideology that expresses and reinforces class division and oppression. However some Neo-Marxists have recognised the revolutionary potential of religion as an agent of social change. Despite predictions of the decline and eventual disappearance of religion it still remains a powerful political and cultural force on a global scale. Rachael Rowe HND Social Sciences: Sociology May 2003 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Compare and contrast the Marxist and Functionalist explanations of the role of religion in ...

    Marxism is criticised through the fact that some religions are revolutionary like the Levellers and Puritans, they rebel against the system and are not passive and docile. Also there has been a tradition of radical theology, for example in Latin America with the "Liberation Theory", this was the idea that

  2. "Compare and contrast the functionalist and Marxist competing views concerning the purpose of the ...

    all needing to be socialised and conform together, the body fights diseases where as in a similar way society has the police and the legal system. (6) Functionalists stress the positive elements in the substructure, saying that there is an open and fair system in place, firstly the State, we

  1. Functionalist views on Religion.

    Malinowski Malinowski sees religion as reinforcing social norms and values and promoting social solidarity. * Life Crisis Situations that produce anxiety and tension include crises of life such as birth, death etc. These life crises are surrounded by rituals e.g.

  2. This essay will explain the functionalist, Marxist and Social action theories of race and ...

    This relates to the extent immigrants felt comparable to the 'white' working class, and to what degree they participated in working class organisations, such as working class culture, the community and politics. (Rex, 1979, page 275) Rex and Tomlinson support the 'dual market labour theory' which states that there are two separate labour markets operating in the within Britain.

  1. Defining religion.

    o Religious belief & ritual give meaning to these uncertainties - create bonds of support between individuals o Eg. Funerals -help to re-integrate the social group which is threatened by the death of a member Weddings - situation where a sacred feeling is given to challenge relationship o Rituals reduce

  2. Outline and assess the differences and similarities between the Functionalist and Marxist views on ...

    Functionalism, or structural consensus, was developed as a concept by the French writer Emile Durkheim. He believed, like Comte on whose work he drew, that sociology should be viewed as a precise science, and that a sociologist should approach their work with an open mind (value freedom), and that society should be studied objectively.

  1. Outline and evaluate the functionalist and Marxist views on the family

    If families did not perform this function no one would be born and society would no longer exist. Educational is a very important factor to functionalists because the family is very much responsible for primary socialisation (the first relationships a person has)

  2. Max Weber: Basic Terms (The Fundamental Concepts of Sociology)

    of wealth is to relaxation in the security of possession, the enjoyment of wealth with the consequence of idleness and the temptations of the flesh, above all distraction from the pursuit of a righteous life. It is only because possession involves this danger that it is suspect at all.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work