Assess the View That the Main Function of Religious Belief Is to Promote Social Stability. (33 Marks)

Topics: Sociology, Religion, Karl Marx Pages: 2 (527 words) Published: May 28, 2013
Assess the view that the main function of religious belief is to promote social stability. (33 Marks) PLAN
* Define Religion: sociologists struggle to define religion – Substantive definition (Max Weber) defines religion as a belief in a god or supernatural power, however this excludes Buddhism - Functional definition (Emile Durkheim) defines religion as performing social or psychological functions of social integration, however this definition also applies to football fans. PARA 1:

* Functionalist agree: Durkheim – religious institutions help maintain social stability – distinguish between sacred ( things that inspire feeling of awe/wonder ) and profane (things that are ordinary and mundane) * Religion involves rituals in relation to the sacred – when people worshiping symbols they are actually worshiping society – all sacred symbols perform the function of uniting communities * Totemism (the practice of worshipping sacred objects) – Arunta tribe worship totem together and this creates shared identity and a sense of belonging that Durkheim calls collective conscience. * HOWEVER in contemporary society there is a range of beliefs which can cause friction, keeping communities apart and posing a threat to social stability.

* Functionalist agree: Malinowski – religion performs psychological functions, provides explanations and comport in situations of uncertainty e.g in life crisis such as Death * Religion fulfils a need for security and relieves situations of emotional stress which could otherwise threaten social stability. * Trobriand Islanders use rituals such as ‘canoe magic’ when ocean fishing to ensure safety on a dangerous task. * HOWEVER …

* Marxists Disagree: Religion functions serve capitalism. Karl Marx – sees religion as an ideology that is used as a weapon by the ruling class to justify suffering of poor as ‘god-given’ * Religion misleads poor into thinking they will be rewarded in the...
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