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Role of Faith in Culture Sociology Essay

Keywords: religion and society essay, functionalism and religion

Functionalism is the most widely-used theory in modern sociology. Generally, functionalism runs on the systematical method of any given subject, asserting that each element of this object fulfills a required role, which is vital either to keep carefully the balance of the machine or because of its survival. Any change in the state of any of the elements influences the complete system. Functionalism targets modern culture as a unity of individuals and the way they, within this whole, are influenced by various cultural institutions. It explores religion at the macro-level, inspecting the result its practices and symbols have on different aspects of society all together as well as the tranquility between its elements and/or its strength. According to the functional approach, religion can fulfill different tasks, for example, build unity, explain and add various norms to world, teach visitors to deal with possible unpredictable outcomes of certain situations; it aims at simplifying the ideas or incidents that are difficult to understand. Extreme modern functionalists even claim that faith is vital for the success of the human race and that it's the only means to enable the changeover from selfishness to altruism.

Another spectacular theorist of functionalism, Bronislaw Malinowski, also analyzed small groupings to identify the communal role of faith ("Sociology of Faith, " 2003). His studies led him to a realization that religion acquired a calming effect on the folks, especially in nerve-racking environment. This consequence was based on the actual fact that religion acquired penetrated into fundamental but extremely anxious for humans incidents, such as relationship or burial, for example. For Malinowski, fatality had a particular value as it intended that society lost one of its users. Nevertheless, he found faith very useful in this situation, as it proposed consolation in the form of life after loss of life. By performing a funeral, religion eased pain and stress, preventing possible cultural outbursts. Among others, Malinowski examined some tribes from the Trobriand Islands, who experienced a special service performed before going fishing, which was their only occupation. This ritual helped them overcome fear about what might happen (as the ocean was an unstable environment), and also built solidarity. The researcher emerged to a realization that faith helped people face the anonymous future.

In standard, functionalism sees faith as a good element of contemporary society, as it unites people, helps maintain social balance and inhibits disorder. Functionalists admit that it's important as religious institutions accomplish functions that world needs for survival, creating individual types of behavior that are advantageous for the cultural balance. Faith is also viewed as a reconciling measure between a person as an component of population and society as a whole. Functional strategy allows individuals to have different levels of religious involvement. Modern-day functionalists, like J. Milton Yinger, also remember that in society religion has extended its influence from the chapel surroundings to everyday living, which means that activities recently unrelated to religion abruptly become associated with it in the people's heads (Blasi, n. d. ). Religious beliefs helps individuals to define their role in world, giving them the feeling of safe practices and knowledge of other individuals in a certain group.

Machiavelli and Hobbes were the first scientists who introduced the idea of conflict into sociological ideas. They applied the word of "cynical realism" to the description of modern culture: motifs of specific behavior were based entirely on self-interest. Each culture has a certain ideology, symbolized in a system of values (religious beliefs), which is often used based on the passions of the functions involved. But the core of turmoil theory is based on the ideas of Karl Marx (McClelland, 2000). Regarding to Marx, the travelling force of interpersonal presence is labor, which gives people with methods to fulfill their basic needs (e. g. food, shelter). Just how this labor is sorted out from a interpersonal perspective determines the essential communal characteristics, making those who carry out the production the constructors of culture. Marx assumed that economy was the basis for creating different communal institutions that determined the form of social awareness of each person.

In order to define the role of faith as it is seen incompatible theory, we need to understand Marx's view on society. He saw capitalism as the dominant structure of modern-day economical interactions, where capital belonged to a little group of individuals, who utilized workers. The latter used capital to produce different goods, but in order for your small band of individuals to receive profit, the staff were paid significantly less than they actually had produced. So there is a issue: those two classes needed each other, as they provided each other with what the other one did not have, but their hobbies acquired different vectors. To keep the personnel (who outnumbered the bourgeois school) under control, different measures were considered: politics, authorities institution, religion. Issue theory sees faith as an instrument used to avoid the majority from acting on their own, to make sure they are accept the proven life-style in contemporary society. Marx believed that eventually the employees would dominate (through growing awareness), and a new model of monetary relationships - socialism - would be proven.

Max Weber is considered to be a uniting hyperlink between turmoil theory and the interactionism. The scientist persisted developing Marx's views, and added new levels of conflict to his theory. Weber assumed that there were more conflicts than simply one-kind-of-property conflict, thus acknowledging that there have been more resources to combat for and that contemporary society was a multiple-class framework, with each category playing a particular role in materials economic interactions. Unlike Marx, Weber migrated the concentrate of conflict to the control of means of violence that offered to control the opposition. Furthermore important for us, Weber got clearly exhibited what role faith played in world. He saw faith as a way to psychologically unite people, and this function of religious beliefs was exploited by the state of hawaii. Faith helped different communities acquire certain statuses or become certain communities (based on ethnicity, for example). Religious ceremonies built strong thoughts of solidarity within the group, created psychological unity and bonds through application of icons, techniques and various material aids. Matching to Weber, religion was not above the discord or means of resolving it, it was another weapon. If some power included itself into spiritual beliefs of people, it occupied the prominent position in population. Religion may also be used as a means of finding allies against a enemy. It could be implemented to make a certain communal hierocracy. Through this idea, Weber exhibited that religious beliefs was a manipulation tool, creating record for stratification of modern culture (e. g. stratification in relations and founded positions of religious leaders, member of the group and non-followers). In conflict theory, any conflict is based on the desire of 1 group to dominate the other or others, that can be most effectively achieved through violent constraint. One discord arises when those people who have the specialist to coerce provide some organizations with certain privileges and remove other sets of them. Regarding to turmoil theory, every specific works in his own passions, having the ability to influence self-perception of others, which creates another discord: different people having different resources available to them create the truth of others, which they use with their advantage. At an individual level, each individual's self-consciousness is developed based on the way this individual comprehends the truth - that is through social communication - which brings us to the idea of interactionism.

Interactionism (brief for symbolic interactionism) is another major theory in sociology, the lately developed among the list of ones shown in this work. Some of its ideas were extracted from Marx, Weber and additional developed by George H. Mead and Herbert Blumer with the contribution of Charles Horton Cooley (McClelland, 2000). This theory specializes in the subjective side of human patterns and interpersonal development. It focuses on individuals rather than society. Relating to interactionism, each individual plays a certain role, having the ability to change his patterns if the patterns of others changes, too. This is because individuals are in a position to understand and read in to the activities of others, that happen to be perceived as icons. Moreover, each individual perceives himself and his own activities as symbols as well. Getting together with one another, folks are constantly along the way of interpreting the icons that they exchange as well as the entire world around them. Interactionism identifies individuals as effective participants of sociable life and constructors of society. Its concentrate is on the individual interactions, diminishing the importance of proven norms (like in functionalism and issue theory). Regarding to interactionism, the changeable character of negotiation process between the society's participants forms the constantly changing sociable truth, which nevertheless keeps in the shape of the stable set of rules regulating these connections. It compensates special attention to the roles that folks play in cultural relations, believing that they can be either pre-defined or not. It is important to understand that individuals not just respond, but evaluate the meaning of counteraction, and then choose their reation.

According to interactionism, religion is a certain ideology (something of symbols) that helps people understand and relate with things that are above understanding, and in a certain way to observe their lives in the wake of this ideology. Religious beliefs creates an overview of appropriate tendencies and includes it into people's brains. Participation in spiritual ceremonies is ways to verify the correctness of one's course and reinforce one's values, but also a way of imposing certain icons. Interactionism recognizes religious beliefs as a very powerful social organization, because if it succeeds in building itself as a symbolic system of some specific, it becomes really the only right method for this individual to interpret the world around him. Religious ceremonies are seen by this theory as very very important to confirming people's system of beliefs and reinforcing certain interpretation of the world. In general, interactionism is a very subjective sociological methodology.


The three ideas represented in this research newspaper see religion not as an essential real truth but instead an illusion of the truth, as it is greatly influenced by different factors. Functionalists see religious beliefs as a uniting make bringing society's customers together through the sensation of solidarity. They assert that spiritual symbols are the representation of the values of people and give special interpretation to the religious ceremonies and rituals, as they encourage more robust unity in sociable groups. Functionalism identifies religion as an optimistic component of the sociable system since it introduces another unearthly fact to people aiding them your investment stress of each day life. According to functionalism, religion is effective for health and is also an important condition for future survival of society. Conflict theory in a figurative so this means sees religion as a medicine for certain sociable groups. It is one of the ways for the oppressed to feel united, though this is a cruel tool in the hands of the ruling class. They use it to enforce the difficult life-style, make the working category believe that it is their destiny and there can't be another. Religion relates only to the near future, promising incentive or better life in the faraway future or even after loss of life (in afterlife). For discord theory, religion is at a level of change, obstructing the theory that the existing way of life benefits only a few while the most society is suffering from injustice. It is interesting to say that both Durkheim and Marx forecasted that faith will vanish from the communal life being worthless. Symbolic interactionism concentrates on the individuals and their connections through which the way the modern culture functions and the tasks of its corporations are described. This theory perceives population as a constantly changeable symbolic organism. Importance of religion is to begin with defined by the meaning of religion for each separate person. Being part of religious beliefs is a continuous and regular comparability and confirmation of one's system of values. The research demonstrates the role of faith can be explained from different items of view, and there is absolutely no right or incorrect explanation.

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