Functionalist View of Religion Essay - Paper Topics

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Functionalist view of religion essays
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Functionalist view of religion essay papers - Little Ones

The Social Structure Theory that is the focus of this essay is the Functionalist approach. Two key theorists in this field are Durkheim – who worked on suicide and religion – and Parsons – who worked with the family. Functionalists view the various institutions of society [Family, education, religion, law] as being reciprocal and thus to understand any single part of society the society as a whole must be studied. Durkhiem and Parsons saw society in the form of a biological analogy, in that each parts of society were seen to be working together to the benefit of the other parts. Also each part of society depended on the other parts of society in order to function. For instance, in the Human body there are many vital organs and vessels that facilitate the continuation of the person’s life. The lungs are useless without the heart, arteries, stomach, brain, liver, kidneys, intestines and so on. In this analogy the human body represents society while the key parts of society [that is, the key institutions such as: Education; Family; Political System, Legal System, Economic Bodies, Media, Cultural Bodies and Religious Bodies] are represented by the vital organs of the body. Each institution relies on the other in order for society as a whole to operate.

Functionalist view of religion essay conclusion - …

Within the functionalist view of religion, there are several different perspectives that need to be considered. Overall functionalist see religion as performing key functions within society to ensure other parts in society work in harmony. Some of the functions religion is said to have is to help us understand life and death, give us a set of rules to live by and uniting people together as a community, without which we would be living in a state of anomie or ‘normlessness’. This is known in sociology as a ‘consensus theory’. Yet within this definition there are several perspectives, coming from a range of different sociologists, to the exact functions that religion provides. These are from sociologists such as Émile Durkheim and his theory of religion and social solidarity, to Bella and his suggestion of civil religion. There are also works from Malinowski and Parsons that need to acknowledged. However many of these views have been criticised as some explanations are believed to be too simplistic or out of date. Others are said on be based on studies with little reliability. These are aspects to analyse throughout the essay.

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