Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Sociology of Religion

The Sociology of Religion

" Holding society together…by providing ordered and structured ways of doing things that continue over long periods of time…[and tend to] perpetuate social inequality"

Stable sets of statuses, roles, groups and organisations…[that] provide the foundation for addressing fundamental social needs’
(Newman, D. M. (2000) Sociology. Exploring the architecture of everyday life.

What is Religion?

Emile Durkheim defines:
“A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative 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 to them.”
Religion is neither a single phenomenon, nor a
“thing”; rather, it is a messy and dynamic collection of institutions, practices, and beliefs.

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim stated that religion involves “things that surpass the limits of our knowledge”.
1. Friendship: Friendship is a vital element of any religion. Congregation members can make wonderful and lasting friendships that can last a lifetime. The church, Mosque is a place to meet others that share your beliefs giving you a strong platform to build a friendship on.
2. Spiritual Growth Your beliefs will be strengthened and confirmed. You will explore your spirituality and from that can come personal growth. Your faith can help you find answers to those difficult questions and help you better understand your purpose in this world. Spiritual growth is a very personal adventure.
3. Mental Health Religion has been show to improve a person’s mental well being. Their belief system is reinforced and the interaction with other congregational members is very beneficial to one overall mental health.
4. Physical Health we have all read and heard about cases where a person’s physical well being has been improved by their religious beliefs. There are many documented cases where person’s beliefs have been the reason for their ability to fight a disease and become healthy again or to overcome obstacles and challenges relating to their health.
5. Community Religion builds community as individuals share their faith with other brothers and sisters of their religion. Social gatherings and meeting encourage a community to grow and prosper within the faith.
6. Creative Expression Religion also builds creativity and artistic skills through music and prayer. Congregational members are also able to increase their skill by participating in the choir or helping decorate the hall for a celebration.
7. A Break Attending church sets a recognizable break away from work, family issues, and self fulfilling issues. It’s a time out period that is dedicated to concentrating on the Lord.
8. Consoling Many people have found help for loneliness and grief in religion. In fact many have been known to turn to religion after the loss of a partner or loved one. In times of sadness and loneliness the church congregation and religion can be very consoling to a person.

9. Strength The faith in ones religion can give a person the strength to carry on, to struggle through obstacles and become a stronger and better person from the experience.
10. Life changing for some finding faith can be life changing. We’ve all heard of criminals that found God and turned their lives around to become a productive member in society.
Religion is a very personal choice. Each religion has their own belief system but each religion has its ties to a higher power or God. Many religions play a large role in helping humanity as a whole. Offering counseling services, providing food and shelter for the poor, helping people in what ever capacity they can.
No matter what faith you are the underlying belief is for the betterment of man kind.
Agreement (consensus) between members of a society on morals maintains social order

Moral consensus creates equilibrium, which is the normal state of society

When things disrupt equilibrium religion is often the method of setting things right again…outside personal interest, sometimes sole institution for arbitration.
Social institutions are collective means to fill individual biological needs

Why does religion do? What does it do that makes it especially functional?

Viewed religious functions and ceremonies as a way to bring a community together. Emile Durkheim

Believed that religion divided the classes…strong vs. weak. Karl Marx

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