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This Essay Will Aim To Discuss Durkheim And Marx In The Context Of Sociology Of Religion.

1967 words - 8 pages

This essay will aim to discuss Durkheim and Marx in the context of sociology of religion. The first part will briefly define religion and then acknowledge Durkheim being a functionalist and Marx and his conflict theory. Finally will then go onto compare and contrast both their ideas on religion.Religion is a way of life and can be a type of government, as it entails rules that are set out and have to be followed.Religion is also a set of beliefs that people often commit themselves to as they want to put their faith into something. As part of the cultural system, religious beliefs give meaning to life, they answer"Mans questions about himself and the world he lives in". (Haralambos, 2000, pg651)Durkheim was a functionalist and functionalism still has validity in sociology. He suggested that society is best studied if it can be compared to the human body.The idea to compare was logical in Durkheim's time although it may not be now. He studied the human body and suggested this idea. As understanding society means understanding the co-operative nature of it. Religion for Durkheim was the way in which a society sensed the world around it, probed and imagined its environment and symbolised whatever might nourish or threaten it. (Fenn, 2003, pg9)From a functionalist perspective, Durkheim's interpretation of religion was the most influential as he argues that all societies divide the world into two categories, 'the sacred' and 'the profane'. (Haralambos, 2000, pg647)Durkheim suggested,"Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices related to sacred things, that is to say things set apart and forbidden, beliefs and practices which write into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them" (Thompson, 1982, pg129)By this what he meant was that for something to be sacred it has to be a symbol and what it represents must be evident.Durkheim studied the first basic form of religions the Australian Aboriginals to strengthen his argument. This religion is also known as Totemism and is divided into different clans. Each clan has its own Totem which is a symbol to differentiate one clan from another. As Durkheim quoted,"It is its flag; it is the sign by which each clan distinguishes itself from all others" (Haralambos, 2000, pg 648)When Aboriginals come together to worship it gives strength to the group and reinforces group identity or form and this is seen as a good thing. Although religion can often cause war and conflict so therefore what Durkheim said is not the whole story, as society will become more complex. It may bring conflict with another group or religion, as people become bogged down with their own beliefs to consider or appreciate anybody else's. This makes it hard to learn or engage in other things in the rest of the world. There is no diversity.Durkheim's concern was ultimately both present and practical,"If we have taken primitive religion as the subject of our research," he insisted, "it is because it has seemed...

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