Outline and assess one of the main approaches to the study of religions. 2003. âReligious Attendance and Subjective Well-Being among Older Americans: Evidence from the General Social Survey.â Review of Religious Research 45:116â129. This power dynamic has been used by Christian institutions for centuries to keep poor people poor and to teach them that they shouldn’t be concerned with what they lack because their “true” reward (from a religious perspective) will come after death. New Approaches to the Study of Religion completes the survey of the comparative study of religion in the twentieth century by focussing on the past two decades. In his writing The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he contends that the Protestant work ethic influenced the development of capitalism. The information age has increased the rapid pace of production expected in many jobs. Let’s explore how scholars applying these paradigms understand religion. Marx considered religion inseparable from the economy and the worker. Rational choice theory (RCT) is one way social scientists have attempted to explain these behaviors. Greeley, Andrew. Moreover, religion is a cultural universal found in all social groups. If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, Fasching, Darrel, and Dell deChant. In providing answers, religion defines the spiritual world and spiritual forces, including divine beings. RCT proposes that, in a pluralistic society with many religious options, religious organizations will compete for members, and people will choose between different churches or denominations in much the same way they select other consumer goods, balancing costs and rewards in a rational manner. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. They are among the founding thinkers of modern sociology. On an extreme level, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism are all examples of this dynamic. From the Latin religio (respect for what is sacred) and religare (to bind, in the sense of an obligation), the term religion describes various systems of belief and practice that define what people consider to be sacred or spiritual (Fasching and deChant 2001; Durkheim 1915). Read more about functionalist views on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/Grinnell_functionalism, symbolic interactionist view on religion at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/flat_Earth, and women in the clergy at http://openstaxcollege.org/l/women_clergy. Religion, in fact, depends on society for its existence, value, and significance, and vice versa. Social scientists recognize that religion exists as an organized and integrated set of beliefs, behaviors, and norms centered on basic social needs and values. Whereas Durkheim saw religion as a source of social stability, German sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864–1920) believed it was a precipitator of social change. Barkan, Steven E., and Susan Greenwood. https://openstax.org/books/introduction-sociology-2e/pages/1-introduction-to-sociology, https://openstax.org/books/introduction-sociology-2e/pages/15-1-the-sociological-approach-to-religion, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. According to this perspective, religion has been used to support the âdivine rightâ of oppressive monarchs and to justify unequal social structures, like Indiaâs caste system. We recommend using a The information age has increased the rapid pace of production expected in many jobs. Letâs explore how scholars applying these paradigms understand religion. Max Weber believed religion could be a force for social change. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. As stated earlier, French sociologist Ãmile Durkheim (1858â1917) defined religion as a âunified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred thingsâ (1915). What are some sacred items that youâre familiar with? The sociological approach to the study of religion is unique in itself. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. For example, it helps answer questions like, âHow was the world created?â âWhy do we suffer?â âIs there a plan for our lives?â and âIs there an afterlife?â As another function, religion provides emotional comfort in times of crisis. Another illustration of religious beliefs is the creation stories we find in different religions. Many of the chapters, however, are also pathbreaking and point the way to future approaches. Originally published in 2004, New Approaches are now available as paperback for classroom use. Sociologists Roger Finke and Rodney Stark (1988) first considered the use of RCT to explain some aspects of religious behavior, with the assumption that there is a basic human need for religion in terms of providing belief in a supernatural being, a sense of meaning in life, and belief in life after death. During times of recession, these service jobs may be the only employment possible for younger individuals or those with low-level skills. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal, because it is found in all societies in one form or another. Today, the work ethic of the modern workforce has been transformed, as more thinking and decision making is required. First, from theseventeenth to the nineteenth century, the perspective of whiteEuropean males dominated the formative period of philosophy ofreligion to such an extent that it was hard to see how the distortionsof this long tradition might be overcome. Another assumption of RCT is that religious organizations can be viewed in terms of âcostsâ and ârewards.â Costs are not only monetary requirements, but are also the time, effort, and commitment demands of any particular religious organization. In fact, scholars have found little merit to his contention when applied to modern society (Greeley 1989). While some people think of religion as something individual because religious beliefs can be highly personal, religion is also a social institution. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons). The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. Durkheim is generally considered the first sociologist who analyzed religion in terms of its societal impact. German philosopher, journalist, and revolutionary socialistÂ Karl MarxÂ (1818â1883) also studied the social impact of religion. How do people decide which religion to follow, if any? Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to âthe divine.â This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. 1933 . This article is organized around the following points. Rational Choice Theory: Can Economic Theory Be Applied to Religion? In studying religion, sociologists distinguish between what they term the experience, beliefs, and rituals of a religion. Sociology has gradually expanded its focus to include more diverse subjects such as health, medical, penal institutions, the Internet, or the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. Today, the work ethic of the modern workforce has been transformed, as more thinking and decision making is required. One of the most important functions of religion, from a functionalist perspective, is the opportunities it creates for social interaction and the formation of groups. After a clarification of the concept of society, it examines whether we can meaningfully speak of a âworld societyâ. OpenStax is part of Rice University, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Four main reasonshave been suggested for this (Frankenberry & Thie 1994: 2â4). It has helped to correct the rationalistic prejudice that only the intellectual expression of religious experience counts. He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the status quo. Ellway, P. 2005. âThe Rational Choice Theory of Religion: Shopping for Faith or Dropping your Faith?â Retrieved February 21, 2012 (http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/religion/overview.php). Moreover, it can foster group cohesion and integration. Extract of sample "Sociological Approach to the Study of Religion:Religious Conflict" Religious Conflict Religious Conflict Religious conflict can be described as disagreements resulting from differences in religious beliefs, which in some cases culminates in wars, â¦ In jobs where roles and tasks are highly prescribed, workers have no opportunity to make decisions. 2001. In conversation with Christopher Cotter, Brown outlines rival traditions within the history of religion and demonstrates what each has contributed to our understanding of secularisation. Another illustration of religious beliefs is the creation stories we find in different religions. In his writing The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he contends that the Protestant work ethic influenced the development of capitalism. Common sense vs. sociological approach Outcome 3 PC (a) â¢ Examine why we study sociology using notion of âthe sociological imaginationâ. His century-old claim that the Protestant work ethic led to the development of capitalism has been one of the most important and controversial topics in the sociology of religion. These universals, and the differences in the way societies and individuals experience religion, provide rich material for sociological study. Religious explanations of these concepts are presumed to be more satisfactory than scientific explanations, which may help to account for the continuation of strong religious connectedness in countries such as the United States, despite predictions of some competing theories for a great decline in religious affiliation due to modernization and religious pluralism. Social scientists recognize that religion exists as an organized and integrated set of beliefs, behaviors, and norms centered on basic social needs and values. He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the status quo. Religion and âThe Study of Religionsâ has many approaches which try to investigate the core of what religion is and what it means to the people who practice it. Functionalists contend that religion serves several functions in society. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide valuable ways for sociologists to understand religion. Translated by J. Swain. It is the task of the sociologist to study these through âverstehenâ or interpretative understanding. On the other hand, the âMcDonaldizationâ of the United States (Hightower 1975; Ritzer 1993), in which many service industries, such as the fast-food industry, have established routinized roles and tasks, has resulted in a âdiscouragementâ of the work ethic. During times of recession, these service jobs may be the only employment possible for younger individuals or those with low-level skills. Because religion can be central to many people’s concept of themselves, sometimes there is an “in-group” versus “out-group” feeling toward other religions in our society or within a particular practice. Religion and âThe Study of Religionsâ has many approaches which try to investigate the core of what religion is and what it means to the people who practice it. Marx considered religion inseparable from the economy and the worker. (The modern use of âwork ethicâ comes directly from Weberâs Protestant ethic, although it has now lost its religious connotations.). On an extreme level, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism are all examples of this dynamic. Religious rituals bring order, comfort, and organization through shared familiar symbols and patterns of behavior. Critics also believe this theory overuses economic terminology and structure and point out that terms such as ârationalâ and ârewardâ are unacceptably defined by their use; they would argue that the theory is based on faulty logic and lacks external, empirical support. Max Weber (1904) posited that, in Europe in his time, Protestants were more likely than Catholics to value capitalist ideology, and believed in hard work and savings. 15.1. The growth of various disciplines in the 19th century, notably psychology and sociology, stimulated a more analytic approach to religions, while at the same time theology became more sophisticated and, in a sense, scientific as it began to be affected by and thus to make use of historical and other methods. To him, sacred meant extraordinaryâsomething that inspired wonder and that seemed connected to the concept of âthe divine.â Durkheim argued that âreligion happensâ in society when there is a separation between the profane (ordinary life) and the sacred (1915). This question led Durkheim to posit that religion is not just a social creation but something that represents the power of society: When people celebrate sacred things, they celebrate the power of their society. 1988. âReligious Economies and Sacred Canopies: Religious Mobilization in American Cities, 1906.â American Sociological Review 53:41â49. The theory proposes that people are self-interested, though not necessarily selfish, and that people make rational choicesâchoices that can reasonably be expected to maximize positive outcomes while minimizing negative outcomes. Above all, he believed religion is about community: It binds people together (social cohesion), promotes behavior consistency (social control), and offers strength during life’s transitions and tragedies (meaning and purpose). He examined the effects of religion on economic activities and noticed that heavily Protestant societies—such as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germany—were the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. Religious experience refers to the conviction or sensation that we are connected to âthe divine.â This type of communion might be experienced when people are pray or meditate. Weber noted that certain kinds of Protestantism supported the pursuit of material gain by motivating believers to work hard, be successful, and not spend their profits on frivolous things. He showed that Protestant values directly influenced the rise of capitalism and helped create the modern world order. Factory jobs tend to be simple, uninvolved, and require very little thinking or decision making on the part of the worker. Despite their different views, these social theorists all believed in the centrality of religion to society. In fact, scholars have found little merit to his contention when applied to modern society (Greeley 1989). Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. 1993. Commentators on religious experience disagree on the significance ofphenomenological considerations. (The modern use of “work ethic” comes directly from Weber’s Protestant ethic, although it has now lost its religious connotations.). Except where otherwise noted, textbooks on this site The Sociological Approach to Religion. 2. RCT is widely used in economics and to a lesser extent in criminal justice, but the application of RCT in explaining the religious beliefs and behaviors of people and societies is still being debated in sociology today. not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University. A few religions and religious denominations are more gender equal, but male dominance remains the norm of most. A standard definition of religion in sociology is that it is: A set of general explanations about existence which includes the supernatural. New York: Penguin. From this perspective, religion serves several purposes, like providing answers to spiritual mysteries, offering emotional comfort, and creating a place for social interaction and social control. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. Finally, religion promotes social control: It reinforces social norms such as appropriate styles of dress, following the law, and regulating sexual behavior. Conflict theorists are critical of the way many religions promote the idea that believers should be satisfied with existing circumstances because they are divinely ordained. Finally, religion promotes social control: It reinforces social norms such as appropriate styles of dress, following the law, and regulating sexual behavior.