• Created by: LeeAdroit
  • Created on: 23-05-17 10:15
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  • Sociology: Religion
    • Why Define Religion?
      • Definition adopted will decide what should be examined as a religious phenomenon and what should not
      • Berger- all religion serves as a sacred canopy for people
    • Substantive Definitions
      • Focus on the content or substance of religious belief
        • Tylor- ‘belief in spiritual beings’
        • Bruce- beliefs actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action
        • Criticised- ignores religious practices
      • Widely accepted- conform to a widespread view of a religion as beliefs in God
      • No room for beliefs and practices that do not involve belief in God- e.g. Amba’s belief in magic be seen as religious, western bias
      • Definition provides broad understanding of religion
    • Functional Definition
      • Religion actually does and its benefit- focuses on the function of beliefs in society
      • Assumption: religion is a product of society
      • Contribution to society- binding through shared values
      • Durkheim
        • A unified system of beliefs and practices relatives to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden- beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church all those who adhere them
      • Yinger
        • Religion is a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggle with the ultimate problems of human life
      • No bias against non-western religion, such as Buddhism as no direct mention of god
      • Too broad- anti religious systems that contribute to understanding of society (Marxism)
        • Scharf- ‘civil religion’ used to describe these types of belief systems (non-religious)
      • Assumption: religion is useful and functional
    • Polythetic Definition
      • This approach identifies a number of factors that most religions share
      • To qualify as a religion, a set of beliefs needs to in exhibit a number of these factors but not necessarily all of them
      • Southworld- Religious facts
        • A concern with godlike beings
        • Concern with the sacred
        • Focus on salvation
        • Rituals and practices
        • Beliefs based on faith
        • Supernatural sanctions
        • Mythology
        • Sacred texts or oral traditions
        • Priests or other religious elites
        • Link with a moral community, church
      • Not clear on how many of these factors need to be shared in order to form a religion
      • Decisions of what to include in the list itself is a matter of judgement- who decides
    • 5 Accepted Features of Religion
      • Beliefs- in supernatural or in symbols which are regarded as sacre
      • Theology- a set of teachings and beliefs- holy book
      • Practice- rituals and ceremonies
      • Institutions- organisation of worshippers, priests or religious leaders
      • Consequences- moral or ethical values to influence everyday behaviours


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