Using material from item a and elsewhere asses the functionalist view that religion benefits both society as a whole and its individual members (18 marks)
Functionalists believe society is built up of different institutions that work together to make society work, religion is one of these institutions and helps society with its need for solidarity and social order. Like mentioned in Item A functionalists view religion as a positive thing and argue that it uses a shared set of norms and values to bring people together into a community. They say this gives everyone a sense of belonging which benefits both individuals and the community as a whole.
Durkheim said the thing we need to ...view middle of the document...
Another criticism of Durkheim is that his findings are based on small-scale religions and is harder to apply to most large-scale religions. Postmodernists also believe due to increasing levels of secularisation Durkheim’s views can’t be applied to today’s society.
Malinowski (1954) also believes religion provides solidarity but he develops that to say religion also provides emotional support for the individual members. He visited the Trobriand islanders and came to the conclusion that they used religion for support in two different situations. The first situation is any time there are major life events such a birth, death or marriage. The second situation is when the outcome is important but is uncontrollable. He watched the differences when they fished in the lagoon to when they fished in the ocean. When the tribe went fishing in the lagoon there was no ritual carried out. But when they went fishing in the ocean due to the dangers it held they performed a ritual first as they needed the emotional support it gave them.
Parsons (1967) also thought religion provided emotional support for unforeseen events. Parsons also said religion creates central values by making norms and values sacred, this helps ensure a value consensus and social stability. He says another feature of religion is to provide a source of meaning, he states it gives people an answer for unanswerable questions. It uses heaven as a reward for daily suffering people may experience. This allows people to believe life has a deeper meaning and maintains stability in society.
However Marxists such as Marx and Engles believe religion doesn’t benefit all of society and that it...