“Religion Is Fundamentally A Positive Influence In Society.”

1193 words - 5 pages

Socialists define religion in four ways, first by identifying whether there is a belief in some kind of super natural power, second if there is an expression of belief through collective worship. Sociologists also define religion by identifying if there is a presence of a force which unifies society, and if there are a set of morals which guide behavior. There are also substantive definitions of religion, these define religion by suggesting there has to be a belief in the supernatural, a being with powers beyond humans and substantive definitions also suggest that in religions there is a belief in the sacred, where members in society worship selected people or things, and this may cause ...view middle of the document...

Malinowski observed that all customs, ideas, artifacts and language of the islanders served their biological and psychological needs. He developed the idea that all aspects of culture are functional, in the way that serve a need, biological or other- this is known as ‘functionalism.’ Malinowski suggested that all customs, social intuitions, or relations should be interpreted in terms of their function, or in other words; whether they satisfy a “need” positive or otherwise. Malinowski observed his suggestion in the islanders, they would perform riruals to control emotions and to satisfy emotional needs, for example the anxiety caused by a forthcoming canoe trip, they believed this would issue them with a safe and plentiful trip.
Parson believes that religion re-enforces the core values of a culture, thus promoting social solidarity and stability. Parsons also suggested that religion aims to answer the ‘big questions’ in society, for example, why do people suffer? Why do people die young? Why is there a divide between the rich and poor? And common answer given to these questions is ‘God decides all of our fates, the bad will be punished and the good will be rewarded.’ Giving religious answers to these big questions helps individuals adjust to their situation, and again this promotes social solidarity. Parson also suggested that religion makes society’s core values sacred, and therefore legitimizes them for said society a good example for this is how democracy and individualism are seen as sacred values, because as Parson suggested these values are legitimized it continues to promote social consensus and stability.
Bellah drew on the ideas developed by Durkheim and Malinowski, who both studied primitive societies to apply the idea of ‘civil religion to modern societies such as that in the USA. Early US citizens came from a vast range of different cultures and religions due to their immigrant history, however they were united in their sense of ‘Americanism.’ ‘Americanism’ is the idea of individualism, self discipline and democracy- all ideas that convey on capitalism. Bellah also made this observation of the sacred and secular idea on the American flag, as it is held in the highest esteem, not only this but Bellah also noted that phases like ‘in God we Trust’ and ‘God bless America’ are common place in America, however the ‘God’ does not refer to a particular God of a particular religion, except America itself. It is ‘Americanism’ that binds the country together as a form of social solidarity. The attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001 are a clear example when the USA collectively felt that ‘Americanism’ was under threat.
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