Assess different sociological accounts of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society'

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'Assess different sociological accounts of the role and functions of religion in contemporary society'

Over the years there have been many accounts put forward by different groups of sociologists to try and explain the role and functions of religion in society.

The functionalists believe that religion is good and makes a useful contribution to society as it draws people together and makes it a better community. Durkheim believed that when you practice religion you in engage in collective worship of society. Durkheim based his study on Aborigines in Australia. Each clan had a totem that they worshiped, it was a way of worshipping their society, togetherness it was also a symbol of God. He says that society is more important than individual religion as it reinforces collective consciousness and that having a social life would be impossible if people didn't share the same values and beliefs. Durkheim gives an accurate picture of what the aborigine's life was like, and it showed that having the same norms and values can draw people together and give a sense of community but worshipping their own society may be true of the aborigines but may not be true of other cultures or of all societies in the modern world. Also in the modern day society there is more than one religion and everyone worships different things and religion and society are totally separate, there is also the fact that some religions criticize society so people believe for that reason they cannot worship their society. Durkheim only comments on groups of people he doesn't mention individuals or people who don't believe in god at all, so it cannot be generalized. Another Functionalist that looked into this was Talcott Parsons he believed religion reinforced social norms in society. He says religion give society guidelines that are acceptable like the 10 commandments, he says religion helps people to cope with problems like death and that religion gives meaning to life. His theory can be applied to modern day society and it also explains how it affects individuals and the society Bellah almost agrees with Durkheim that society is fantastic and people worship their society but doesn't look at the fact that media coverage may make society more important and appealing like after September 11th. Overall the functionalists view of religion is ok, they make some good points but ignore the dysfunctional aspects, I think parsons is the most accurate as he also looks at the individual.
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The Marxists have three perspectives on religion the first one being that religion is a false consciousness its dulling oppression and aiding exploitation. Lenin says that religion does nothing to solve problems and is a bad attempt to make life more bearable, it promises that life after death will better and if you endure more suffering on earth then the better life you will have after, he says it also gives people a false consciousness as it brainwashes people into thinking God made them poor so they have to accept it and it helps them accept their situation, ...

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