Religion Contributes to Social Order. Do You Agree?

Topics: Sociology, Religion, Émile Durkheim Pages: 5 (1689 words) Published: January 4, 2013
Religion contributes to social order. Do you agree?
By referring to any ONE (1) Caribbean religious grouping, show how its beliefs contribute to this feature of society. Relevant theoretical perspectives must be employed in the response.
It is in my opinion that religion does contribute to social order. Religious beliefs of one sort or another exist is every known society all over the world. To really define religion you have to look at from either a functional definition or a substantive definition. Functional religion is based on the functions that it performs for society or the individual. Yinger defined religion as ‘a system of beliefs and practices by which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life.’ Substantive religion is more concerned with the content of the religion than the purpose or function. Roland Robinson (1970) defined religion as ‘the existence of supernatural beings that have a governing effect on life.’ I will be focusing on Christianity and how it contributes to social order with a basic functional view based on the definition given above.

Christianity was introduced into the Caribbean and the New World by Europeans as a means civilization for the inhabitants. The growth of Europeans was not only to extract wealth from the region but to also convert the unbelievers. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the churches in Europe where making a significant development to religion in the Caribbean. The most dominant religions were Protestants and Roman Catholicism and over time they made a significant impact of the development of religion in the Caribbean.

Emile Durkheim believed that all society was divided into the sacred and the profane, and that religion was based upon this division. He believed that social life could not exist without the collective conscience. Without the shared values and norms there would be no social order, social control or social solidarity thus religion enforces the collective conscience. By worshipping society we strengthen the beliefs that will form the basis of social life and by defining the beliefs as sacred; it gives them greater power to control human activities. He believed that religion was functional to both the society and the individual.

Individuals benefited from the beliefs that surrounded the religious activities performed and the society benefited from the foundation provided for reinforcements of the values and norms of the society. The individuals when participating in the religious activities will get a sense of belonging in the form of moral cohesion. The members of society communicate and understand the bonds that join them. Thus, religion contributes to social order in the form of the collective conscience. Like Durkheim, Malinowski sees religions as the reinforcing of social views and norms and promoting social solidarity.

Malinowski focuses on certain areas of society where religion is concerned and believes that these situations are of emotional stress and thus threatens social solidarity. In his research he noted that marriage, death, puberty, birth (things he calls the crises of life) are all surrounded by religious activities. In Christianity when a baby is born, he/she is brought before the church to be blessed by the pastor as it was read in the bible. When a person dies, a funeral is performed where it is believed that the deceased has gone to be with Jesus Christ in the bosom of Abraham. These rituals reduce anxiety by providing confidence and a feeling of control, thus contributing to social order. Parsons like Malinowski views religion as being due to particular problems that occur in all societies.

Parson argues that people go about their everyday life without problem. If life was to always be like that then there would be no need for religion since there was no particular strain. Unfortunately, since life doesn’t actual work like that then that the problems that human do face fall into two...
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