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"The main function of religion is to provide people with a code of behaviour which regulates personal and social life

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Introduction

"The main function of religion is to provide people with a code of behaviour which regulates personal and social life." Assess the extent to which sociological arguments and evidence support this view. Many sociologists believe that the main function of religion is to provide people with a code of conduct, which regulates personal and social life. There are two main theories to what role religion plays within society. One of these theories is the Marxist theory. Marxism sees society as superstructure. They believe that society isn't peaceful and is based on conflict and exploitation. Religion makes this society justify inequality and maintains ruling class domination. Karl Marx believed religion is a form of social "opium" which dulls oppressive pain and provides hope to the working class people who are being exploited. In Marx's view religion is used by the ruling class to control the working class. ...read more.

Middle

In South America, Liberation Theology is one of the fastest growing and most popular interpretation of Christianity. It is the idea that people can be made free through religion. Until recently the catholic church was seen as an oppressive force, not helping out those who suffered under the injustices of some Latin American governments. However, more recently Roman Catholic priests have helped people to change the situation that they are in. Functionalists also agree with the statement. They have a large approach on society and link it towards the human body, which includes religion as a main function in society. They believe religion performs vital functions to balance society and creates the basis of the norms and values of society. This therefore according to functionalists promotes social order. Emile Durkheim suggested that religion was sacred and treated with respect, this creates a social community which give out morals. ...read more.

Conclusion

He cited an example from a group of people called the Trobriand Islanders, a group of people he studied. Before the men went off to fish in dangerous waters, the Islanders always held a religious ceremony. Malinowski argued that this display of social solidarity, brought about by religion was a vital part of the continuing of society through times of stress. Another contributor to the functionalist approach is Talcott Parsons. Parsons believed the role of religion served two functions. One is to provide guidelines and the other is to answer ultimate questions. Religion gives out guidelines which provide us with normal behaviour within society. It also helps us to understand certain situations and overcome them, for example people dying. Parsons said that religion helped people to understand why evil actions are undertaken and helps to bring people together. Many sociologists would agree in saying that the main function of religion isn't to provide people with a code of behaviour which regulates personal and social life, but it is a very important function. There are many other functions which are just as important. ...read more.

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