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'Society is the real object of religion veneration' To what is this an accurate view of Religion and Society?

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Introduction

'Society is the real object of religion veneration' To what is this an accurate view of Religion and Society? To illustrate what is meant by the above statement we can use the example that functionalist Durkheim uses - the Australian aborigines. He calls their religion 'totemism' and sees it as the most basic form of religion. Aborigine society is divided into several clans which are like large extended families with its members sharing certain duties and obligations. Each clan has a totem, usually an animal or plant, which is an emblem of the clan. It is the sign by which each clan distinguishes itself from all the other clans. However, the totem is ore then this - it is a sacred symbol. ...read more.

Middle

Society is more important and powerful than the individual. Durkheim argues that primitive man comes to view society as something sacred because he is utterly dependant on it. Durkheim argues that social life is impossible without the shared values and moral beliefs which form the 'collective conscience'. In their absence, there would be no social order, social control, social solidarity or cooperation. In short, there would be no society. Religion reinforces the collective conscience. The worship of society strengthens the values and moral beliefs which form the basis of social life. By defining them as sacred, religion provides them with greater power to direct human action. The attitude of respect towards the sacred if the same attitude applied to social duties and obligations. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some anthropologists have argues that he is not justified in seeing totemism as a religion. Most sociologists believe that Durkheim has overstated his case. Whilst agreeing that religion is important for promoting social solidarity and reinforcing social vales, they would not support the view that religion is the worship of society. Durkheim's views on religion are more relevant to small, non-literate societies; where there is a close integration of culture and social institutions, where work, leisure, education and family life tend to merge and where members share a common belief and value system. There are less relevant to modern societies, which have many subcultures, social and ethnic groups, specialised organisations and a range of religious beliefs, practices and institutions. Kajal Patel 1 ...read more.

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