Sociology of Religion

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Sociology of Religion

  Religion :

definition; Structure and characteristics of religion;

  beliefs and rituals;

magic, religion and science;

the holy and the profane;


sects and sects; priest,

Shaman and Prophet.



II Sociological Interpretation of Religion:

Origin of religion (evolutionary);

Durkheim and Sociological Functionalism;

  Weber and Phenomenology;

Marx and Dialectical Materialism,

Indian perspective – Gandhi, Ambedkar and Vivekananda.



  III Religions of India and their components:

Hindu Religion;






saint / saint,

Saints and Pilgrims.



  IV Controversy over religion in India:

socio-religious movements;

religious pluralism,




Religion and Globalization. 

Sociology of Religion

Introduction to religion


Religion describes beliefs, values, and practices related to sacred or spiritual concerns. Social theorist Émile Durkheim defined religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915). Max Weber believed that religion could be a force for social change. Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. Religion is a social institution as it consists of beliefs and practices that meet the needs of the society. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal as it is found in all societies in some form or the other. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide sociologists with valuable ways to understand religion. 

Why do sociologists study religion?


For centuries, mankind has tried to understand and explain the “meaning of life”. Many philosophers believe that this contemplation and desire to understand our place in the universe is what separates mankind from other species. Religion, in one form or another, has been found in all human societies ever since human societies first appeared. Archaeological excavations have revealed ancient ritual objects, ceremonial burial sites, and other religious artifacts. Many social conflicts and even wars have resulted from religious disputes. To understand a culture, sociologists must study its religion.

what is religion? Pioneer sociologist Émile Durkheim described it with the ethereal statement that it “contains things that transcend the limits of our knowledge” (1915). He elaborated: Religion is “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that which is separate and forbidden, beliefs and practices which are united in a single moral community, called a church, which belongs to all”. follow. them” (1915). Some associate religion with places of worship (a synagogue or church), others with a practice (confession or meditation), and still others with a concept that that guide their daily lives (such as religion or sin). All of these people can agree that religion is a system of beliefs, values, and practices that a person holds to be sacred or spiritually significant. accepts.

Religion can also serve as a filter to examine other issues in society and other components of culture. For example, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, it became important for teachers, church leaders, and the media in North America to educate citizens about Islam in order to prevent stereotyping and promote religious tolerance. can be promoted. Sociological tools and methods such as surveys, surveys, interviews, and analysis of historical data can be applied to the study of religion in culture to help better understand the role of religion in people’s lives and the way in which It affects the society.

If there was any doubt about the sociological importance of religion, the terrorist events of Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, and its aftermath renewed our awareness that religion matters in contemporary times. The terrorist acts crystallized how an adherence to religious fundamentalism can destroy lives and forever change the lives of many others. The public response to terrorist attacks points to a different side of religion: the positive cultural power of ritual to remember relationships with those who have died and to affirm communal unity and solidarity in times of trial. . Who would have thought that in the early twenty-first century a mix of flowers, photographs, steel and foam crosses in public memorials, and candlelight vigils would light up downtown Manhattan, the most modern and urban of metropolises?

Clearly, the beginning of a new century has not coincided with the eclipse of religion in personal life and public culture. Despite this, and perhaps because of our disillusionment with our increasingly rational society, religion continues to provide meaning and interweave daily social, economic and political activities. The continuing importance of religion in later modern society was not anticipated by classical social theorists and is in contrast to much of contemporary theory due to a number of factors. From an intellectual point of view this is largely due to the excessive emphasis on reason and the rejection of religion.

R-reflects the tendency to bring it into the realm of the rational which is characteristic of modern social thought. Plainly stated, the former has a calculative, heuristic rationality as the overarching determinant of all forms of social action, whereas the latter sees religion and reason as inherently incompatible.

The dominance of instrumental reason as envisioned by Max Weber (1904–5/1958) has definitely passed. Few would challenge the view that an economic-technological rationality is the primary engine of our globalized society. The argument for free trade, for example, legitimizes the relocation of companies to cities, regions and countries where production costs are comparatively low. Technological advances allow corporations to have more cost-effective communication with their customers via the Internet, and as a result many companies have chosen to bypass the human distributors who until recently were a key component of their corporate relational networks; Travel agents and car dealers are two such visible groups of “techno-victims”. When Boeing moved from Seattle to Chicago and when Guinness moved from there

Means-end calculations from Ireland to Brazil did not quantify community costs



The emotional and cultural harm attendant upon disruption or disruption of the symmetry of symbol and place. In today’s world, as exemplified so well by professional sports, teams are run and fan loyalty is almost as important as player contracts.

Codified rationality as a whole in professions means that specialization rather than breadth is a badge of honor of the Renaissance. Thus in sociology, as Robert Wuthnow argues (Chapter 2), sub-specialization rather than personal bias is largely responsible for many sociologists’ inattention to questions in sub-fields such as religion because they regard them as their primary specialization. Watch as it falls out. Even though sociology emphasizes the reciprocity of social phenomena, institutional practices (e.g., publication and promotion decisions) and rational organization of the discipline require specialization (e.g., separate sections within the American Sociological Association, Each with its own membership, council, and newsletter).

Yet despite the dominance of a calculative rationality, there are many examples of non-strategic action and contexts in which the two co-exist. Ethics still have a place in individual and corporate behavior even in the most strategic area of the techno-economic domain. For example, Cantor Fitzgerald, a government bond trader who lost more than two-thirds of his employees during the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center, was widely recognized for his initially compassionate response to the victims’ families (e.g., providing food and other amenities). was highly praised. at a local hotel to meet the families of the victims). Although within a week of the attack it cut its missing employees from payroll saying it would avoid bookkeeping distortions, Cantor Fitzgerald executives later publicly offered victims’ families 25% of the partners’ profits over the next ten years. percent, a decision that appears to have been driven more by ethics rather than economic considerations (despite the good public relations it received). More generally, there is still some recognition in advanced capitalist societies such as the United States that loyalty to family, community, and nation is a valid factor in economic decisions.

ionizing despite the continuing evidence of the excesses of corporate greed and their tendency to obscure the hold of ethical behavior in the marketplace. In short, didactic reasoning is not the only engine of modern life; Moral, emotional, or what Durkheim (1893/1997) termed non-contractual, elements of the contract continue to shape social behaviour, albeit often in ambiguous ways.

The focus of Douglas Massey’s 2001 presidential address to the American Sociological Association was that reason and emotion are intertwined rather than anathema. Massey (2002:2) emphasizes that “human beings are not only rational. Human beings are added as a rational component to an already existing emotional basis, and our focus is on the interplay between rationality and emotionality.” rather than theorizing, or presenting, the former while neglecting the latter. In contrast to each other (emphasis in original). From Robert Bellah’s analysis of “The Ritual Roots of Society and Culture” (Chapter 3, this section) The interplay between reason and emotion is most clearly demonstrated. Bela draws on recent advances in neurophysiology, Paleolithic archaeology, ethnography, and anthropology to elaborate on the foundations of ritual in human society. focuses on the centrality of exchange and the individual’s deep-seated need to relate to other social beings. Bellah believes that the rhythmic rhythms of conversational speech and gesture and the affirmation of social solidarity, which he calls non-utilitarian forms of social life dimension, or recognize the sacredness. Emile Durkheim (1912 /1976) drawing on the creative ambiguity inherent in the concept of ritual and the virtual interchangeability of religious and social practice, Belah in everyday life

It points to many expressions of ritual—of dinner, games, military drill, rituals of education, and politics. He argues that such diverse rituals “can be seen as the basis of any kind of social action, an element of the sacred and thus a manifestation of the religious.”

As for Bella and other sociologists (eg, Collins 1998; Goffman 1967), ritual is the most fundamental category for understanding social action because it expresses and confirms the shared meaningful experience and emotional bonds of individuals’ social affiliation. Bella is well aware that the utilitarian rationality of our market society can obscure and sometimes destroy bonds of solidarity. Nevertheless, he is clear that “we are surrounded by ritual in myriad forms,” and that, “if we look in the right places,” we can see it unfolding in the economic sphere.

As Beulah’s analysis shows, the sacred, or non-rational, pulsates across multiple sites and is intertwined with formal rational processes. Reason matters, but so too, does the individual’s need to connect with others and experience a sense of social reciprocity. Thus according to Erik Erikson’s (1963) theory, the development of interpersonal trust is important for individual and social well-being; Social life requires us to form meaningful and purposeful relationships with others. It is the abiding need for human interconnectedness that ignites social action as the smoldering embers of the search for some form of communal solidarity. The power of religion lies partly in the resources it provides towards building and shaping meaningfully connected individual and communal lives; The religious or sacred thus persists despite the pervasive presence of rationality in society.



Religion is difficult to define. The difficulty is due to the fact that there are many religions and there is no single definition that is agreed upon. However, religion is a set of beliefs, symbols and practices and rituals that are based on ideas of the sacred, and that unite believers into a socio-religious community. The sacred is compared to the profane because it involves feelings of awe. Sociologists define religion in terms of the sacred, rather than belief in a god or gods, because it makes social comparison possible. For example, some versions of Buddhism do not include belief in a god. Religion is also contracted with magic as the latter is considered individualistic. Related to religion are invisible religion, new religion and secularism.

Mazumdar and Madan (1963) have defined religion in the Indian context. they write :

Then there is religion; It is a human response to the apprehension of something or a power that is supernatural and supersensuous. It is an expression of the manner or type of adjustment that people make to their conception of the supernatural.

In fact religion was considered a product of civilization until Tylor provided strong evidence that primitive societies had their own versions of religious activity, not much different from civilized societies. Since Tylor’s ideas were published, no ethnographer has reported any primitive society without religious beliefs and practices.





meaning of religion

From an etymological point of view, Buké has shown, religion is derived from the Latin word rel(l)igio, which itself is either derived from the root leg- meaning ‘to gather, count the observation’, or from the root lig. – which means ‘to bind’. The implication in the former sense is belief in and observation of signs of divine communication. Implicit in the latter sense is the performance of necessary actions, which may bind man and supernatural forces together. Both the implications are relevant in view of the fact that belief and ritual are found to be the main constituent parts of religions everywhere.

Belief and Ritual. As already stated, all religions involve a mental approach to the supernatural. ‘The most widespread expression of this view is in the form of beliefs and customs, the former often wrongly called myths. What we call myths are believed by the people to whom they belong, and are therefore better designed as religious beliefs or beliefs. This is the basis of belief and ritual in all religions, primitive and modern. Ritual consists of the observance, according to a prescribed manner, of certain actions designed to establish contact between the person performing them and a supernatural power, or forces. Beliefs are a charter for rituals, as well as a rationale that ensures that rituals will be followed. What separates the so-called high religions from the primitive variety is the relative lack of later philosophical speculation. Primitive man has not been found in philosophizing as much as modern man. However, the presence of one form or another of religion has always been reported by investigators; And today Jung has made it an essential feature of human life without which the full integration of the human personality is not possible.

However, it may be kept in mind that the concept of the exact nature of the supernatural varies from society to society and people to people.

, For some there may be the formation of supernatural ghosts and spirits; To others it may be an impersonal force that pervades everything in this world; To still others it may appear through anthropomorphic deities, or a higher god, and so on.

Data collected from many primitive societies around the world suggests that primitives generally distinguish between two constituent elements in the supernatural realm; There is a sacred part and there is an unholy part. According to Durkheim, the sacred part, which has been called religion, and the profane part as magic or primitive science. However, Malinowski classified religion and magic as the sacred part and science as the profane.





  sociology of religion

There are many sociology – sociology of family, political sociology, sociology of tribes and sociology of religion. What is important in all these Sociologies is the sociological perspectives studied in the study of a particular subject. In the sociology of politics, political processes are studied from a sociological perspective; In economic sociology, production, distribution and exchange are studied from the point of view of sociology.

The sociology of religion has been established with the production of abandoned research material. of sociology




The Oxford Dictionary defines sociology of religion as:


The influential study of religious institutions, beliefs and practices originated in

Criticism of Marxism and neo-Hegelian religion, but it is mainly associated with late nineteenth-century research into religious phenomenology by Émile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, William Robertson Smith, Ernst Troeltsch, and Max Weber. A psychoanalytic theory of religious behavior was also developed by Sigmund Freud. The sociology of religion should be distinguished from religious sociology, which has been employed by the Roman Catholic Church to improve the effectiveness of its missionary work in industrialized societies, but which is related to both the phenomenology and anthropology of religion.

The sociology of religion should be seen as a critique of nineteenth-century positivist theories, which were concerned with explaining the origins of religion on rationalist and individualistic assumptions. This positivist tradition regarded religion as the erroneous beliefs of individuals that would eventually disappear when scientific ideas became widely established in society. For example, it was assumed that Darwinism would undermine religious belief in a divine creator. Religion was considered irrational.

The sociology of religion, in contrast, viewed religion as non-rational, collective, and symbolic. It was not interested in the historical origins of religion in ‘primitive societies’. Religion was not based on misconception, but was a response to the human need for meaning. It was not individualistic but social and collective. It was about symbol and ritual rather than faith and knowledge. The development of scientific knowledge was therefore irrelevant to the social functions of religion. When we talk about sociology of religion we should mention that there are two traditions in the sub-discipline of sociology. One tradition is that of Durkheim and the other that of Weber.

Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) is a classic statement of his sociological approach. He defined religion as ‘a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is, forbidden things – beliefs and practices which unite in a single moral community called the Church, all who adhere to them. By ‘primary forms’ Durkheim means the basic structures of religious activity; He rejected as unscientific the primitive origins or any investigation of religion, instead focusing on the social functions of religious practices. He also rejected rationalist criticism of faith by focusing on practices related to the sacred. His approach has been fundamental to the sociological understanding of religion.

Thus the sociology of religion is concerned with the problem of defining religion and distinguishing religion from magic. It has largely discarded the idea that religion is a collection of beliefs in God. Instead the emphasis is on practice in relation to the sacred. Alternative approaches define religion as the ultimate concern that all human beings have to address. Many sociologists have subsequently identified religions with the social.

There are generally two conflicting traditions in the sociology of religion: the Durkheim and Weberian traditions. Whereas Durkheim was interested in the social functions of religion in general in relation to social integration, Max Weber was primarily concerned with the problem of theodicy (any explanation of the fundamental moral problems of death, suffering, and evil) and comparative studies. Moksha Drive. Weber in his The Sociology of Religion (1922) identified two major religious orientations toward the world—mysticism and asceticism. He was particularly interested in economics and religious attitudes towards sexuality. He argued that inner-world asceticism (or the ethic of world mastery) represents the most radical attempt to impose a rational regulation on the world. He the Protestant



Explored this in Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905).

Some sociologists have claimed that in modern societies, urbanization, cultural pluralism, and the spread of scientific understanding of the world have resulted in an intensive process of secularization (or religious decline). This thesis has also been challenged by sociologists, who argue that religion is transformed rather than reduced.

The sociology of religion was originally at the theoretical center of sociology as a whole, as it was concerned with understanding the character of rational action, the importance of symbols, and ultimately the nature of the social. However, it has been argued that contemporary sociology of religion has lost much of this analytical importance, as it focuses on narrow empirical issues such as recruitment patterns to Christian ministry.

The comparative study of world religions which was fundamental to Weber’s approach has been neglected.

Brian Wilson’s Religion in Sociological Perception

Perspectives (1982) and Steve Bruce’s Religion in Modern Britain (1995) both follow most of the topics raised in this entry and an excellent introduction to the field as a whole. See also civil religion, invisible religion, private religion, Protestant ethnic thesis, religious innovation, religious revival and sect.


reason in religion

Having asserted that the non-rational is what constitutes human society, it is also important to acknowledge that reason has a solid place in religion. Most social theories leave it unsaid. As a result it is sometimes assumed that religion and practical reason are incompatible. This perspective is most clearly evident in the writings of Jürgen Habermas (1984, 1987). Habermas rejects unilateral rationality that privileges strategic action and instead proposes a non-strategic, communicative rationality grounded in a process of deductive reasoning. However, in doing so, he denies the relevance of irrational elements to communicative exchange. He rejects arguments that he sees as tainted by their association with emotion, belief, and tradition, and therefore discards a vast amount of resources used in everyday practices. Although Habermas is correct in being skeptical of the ways in which emotion and tradition often obscure power inequalities that allow certain “truths” to dominate institutional practices, his strict demarcation between religion and deductive reasoning makes religion difficult. Presents as a monolithic, dogmatic force. Thus he ignores the openness of diverse religious traditions to rational self-criticism and debate, and the centrality of theoretical and practical reasoning in individual and collective interpretations of religious teachings (Dillon 1999b).

in the same way strategic and n

Strategic action coexists, overlaps, and can be divided into daily life, religion and reason also coexist and be interspersed and fragmented into religious traditions and individual and institutional practices. For many individuals and groups, the continuing relevance of religion stems from the fact that religious institutions, doctrines, and practices are, at least partially, open to rational criticism and change. Although the founding narratives of religious traditions can be seen as divinely inspired, their subsequent institutionalization is a social process. Because religious institutions are social institutions whose practices evolve over time and adapt to changing cultural and historical conditions, the boundaries of religious identity are contentious and mutable.

For example, many practicing Catholics maintain their commitment to Catholicism, while still challenging the Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality. Feminist Catholics invoke historical and doctrinal reasons, such as the presence of women in the texts and historical accounts of early Christianity and the Church’s doctrine on equality, for what they see as the theological arbitrariness of the Church’s ban on female priests. to argue against. Similarly, gays and other Catholics question why the official markers of Catholic identity attach much more importance to sexual morality than to living out the daily Christian morality of justice. Many of these Catholics, therefore, remain Catholic, but explicitly criticize Catholicism and do so in ways that enable them to combine not only Catholicism but their religious and other social identities. Indeed, in this regard, the negotiation of religious identity in contemporary America provides a good example of how pragmatic congruence – in a pluralistic and multicultural society – can sometimes appear as heterogeneous identity (Dillon 1999a: 255–6). .

For example, the interconnectedness of religion and reason in everyday life also means that although many Americans express belief in God and an afterlife (eg, Greeley and Hout 1999), this does not mean that They are indeed supposed to have an afterlife and, in any case, may go about their daily activities with a certain religious indifference. Religion matters in many people’s lives and in public culture, but it is not the only or most important thing and its relevance ebbs and flows relative to what is going on. in short

In the United States, reason and religion are sometimes coupled and sometimes separated in the diverse individual and institutional contexts of daily life (cf. Dillon 2001).

New Sociology


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