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The first 200 words of this essay...
There are two main perspectives to be aware of here. They both adopt the view that religion inhibits change, that is they identify a similar role for religion, but functionalism views one approach as a 'good' thing, while the other, Marxism views it as a 'bad' thing. In other words, values are to the forefront in the analysis.
The key concern of functionalist writing on religion is the contribution that religion makes to the well being of society, its contribution to social stability and, value-consensus.
In his Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim argues that the function of religious ritual is to maintain social solidarity by affirming the moral superiority of society over its individual members. Durkheim believed that social life could only exist if values were shared and society integrated into a coherent whole. Religion is an important aspect of this process, not only providing a set of unifying practices and beliefs, but also by providing a way in which people can interpret and give meaning to the world.
Durkheim's distinction between the sacred and profane, is, in effect, the distinction between people and society. For Durkheim the sacred are symbols
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