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RELIGION Sociology 101 Religion religions is a universal found in every culture. Religion was defined by Emile Durkheim as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” Durkheim stressed the social impact of religion

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Sociology 101

  • religions is a universal found in every culture.

Religion was defined by Emile Durkheim as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”

  • Durkheim stressed the social impactof religion
      • Interested in religious behavior within a social context
durkheim and the sociological approach to religion
Durkheim and the Sociological Approach to Religion
  • Sacred: Elements beyond everyday life that inspire awe, respect, and even fear
  • Profane: Includes the ordinary and commonplace

Functions of Religion

Manifest functions

  • Religion defines the spiritual world and gives meaning to the divine
  • Religion also provides an explanation for events that are difficult to understand
    • the purpose of life,
    • why people suffer, and
    • the existence of an afterlife
religion functionalism
Religion - Functionalism
  • Those answers give people a sense of purpose
  • Strengthened by such beliefs, people are less likely to collapse in despair when confronted by life’s calamities
the integrative function of religion
The Integrative Function of Religion
  • Durkheim viewed religion as an integrative force in human society
  • Gives meaning and purpose to people’s lives
  • Gives people ultimate values and ends to hold in common
  • Strengthens social integration within specific faiths and denominations
  • In some instances, religious loyalties are dysfunctional
religion and social control the marxist approach
Religion and Social Control: The Marxist Approach
  • Marx was an atheist who believed that the existence of God was an impossibility
  • Marx recognized that religion promoted stability within society, but it also perpetuated patterns of social inequality
  • According to Marx, religion serves elites, by legitimizing the status quo and diverting people’s attention from social inequities
marxist approach
Marxist Approach
  • In his view religion often drugged the masses into submission by offering a consolation for their harsh lives on earth: the hope for salvation in an ideal after life
  • Marx described religion as "the opiate of the people".
world religions
World Religions

Diversity in World Religions

  • 85 percent of the world’s population adheres to some religion
  • Christianity is the largest faith around the world with about 34 percent of the population.
  • it includes the Roman Catholic Church, the numerous Protestant denominations, and the Eastern Orthodox Church with over 1.9 billion faithful
world religions11
World Religions
  • About 85% of world’s population adheres to some religion
  • Christianity largest single faith, Islam is second
    • Monotheistic and impose moral code
  • Differences among religions exceeded by variations within faiths
  • the second largest is Islam with about 19 percent, and is the fastest growing of the major religions.
      • Monotheistic and impose moral code
organization of religious behavior
Organization of Religious Behavior
  • An ecclesiais a religious organization claiming to include most or all of the members of a society and is recognized as the national or official religion
  • Ecclesiae are conservative, in general, and do not challenge the leaders of a secular government
  • A denomination is a large, organized religion not officially linked with the state or government
  • A denomination tends to have an explicit set of beliefs, a defined system of authority, and a generally respected position in society
  • The United States has the most denominations in the world. It is a result of the immigrant heritage
  • Eighty-seven percent of the population identify themselves as Christian, and the largest Christian denominations is the Roman Catholic Church, with about 57 million members.
  • About 80 million people, or 60 percent of the religious population are Protestant, but they are divided into hundreds of denominations
  • The Southern Baptist Convention, with about 15 million members is currently the largest Protestant denomination
religious organization
Religious Organization
  • Figure 15.3: Largest Religious Groups in the United States by County, 2000

Source: D. Jones at al. 2002:592.

  • A sect can be defined as a relatively small religious group that has broken away from some other religious organization to renew what it considers the original vision of the faith
  • Sect formation is very common in the U.S.
  • Sects usually exhibit a higher degree of fervor and loyalty than more established religious groups do
  • To sustain their membership, sects rely on active recruitment, of new members
new religious movements or cults
New Religious Movements or Cults
  • New Religious Movement (NRM): Small, secretive religious groups that represent either a new religion or a major innovation of an existing faith
  • Similar to sects
  • Tend to be small
  • Viewed as less respectable than more established faiths
religious behavior
Religious Behavior
  • Religiousbeliefs: statements to which members of a particular religion adhere
  • Fundamentalism: rigid adherence to fundamental religious doctrines
  • Fundamentalism found worldwide among most major religious groups
the secularization of culture
The Secularization of Culture
  • Sociologists use the term secularization of culture to refer to a culture that, once heavily influenced by religion, has lost much of its religious influence
  • The only sphere of influence that religion retains in advanced societies is the family
  • It is no longer the primary cohesive force in societies, having been replaced by nationalism and other secular and political ideologies
religion in the schools
Religion in the Schools
  • The Setting
  • First Amendment protects religious freedom
  • In 1987, Supreme Court ruled states could not compel the teaching of creationism in public schools
    • Creationists want Bible’s version of creation of world taught as the only theory of evolution or as an alternative theory
religion in the schools25
Religion in the Schools
  • Sociological Insights
  • Supporters of school prayer and creationism feel there is too much separation in schools between the sacred and the profane
  • Opponents argue a religious majority in a community might impose viewpoints specific to its faith at the expense of religious minorities
sociological perspectives on education
Sociological Perspectives on Education
  • Education is social institution that formally socializes members of society
  • Number of people age 25 or over with a high school diploma increased from 41% in 1960 to more than 85% in 2004
  • Those with a college degree rose from 8% in 1960 to about 28% in 2004
sociological perspectives on education27
Sociological Perspectives on Education
  • Education is social institution that formally socializes members of society
  • Number of people age 25 or over with a high school diploma increased from 41% in 1960 to more than 86% in 2006
  • Those with a college degree rose from 8% in 1960 to 28% in 2006
functionalist view
Functionalist View
  • Transmitting Culture
    • Exposing young people to existing beliefs, norms, and values of their culture
  • Promoting Social and Political Integration
    • Common identity and social integration fostered by education contributes to societal stability and consensus
functionalist view29
Functionalist View
  • Maintaining Social Control
    • Schools teach students punctuality, discipline, scheduling, responsible work habits, and how to negotiate a bureaucratic organization
  • Serving as an Agent of Change

Schools serve as a meeting ground where people can share distinctive beliefs and traditions

conflict view
Conflict View
  • Education is instrument of elite domination
  • Schools socialize students into values dictated by the powerful, stifle individualism and creativity, and promote relatively insignificant change
conflict view32
Conflict View
  • The Hidden Curriculum: Standards of behavior deemed proper by society are taught subtly in schools

Credentialism: Increase in the lowest level of education needed to enter a field

conflict view33
Conflict View
  • Bestowal of Status
  • Schools tend to preserve social class inequalities in each new generation
  • Tracking: Practice of placing students in specific curriculum groups on the basis of test scores and other criteria
  • Correspondence principle: Promotes values expected of individuals in each social class; perpetuate social class divisions
feminist views
Feminist Views
  • Treatment of Women in Education
  • In 20th century, sexism in:
    • Stereotypes in textbooks
    • Pressure to study traditional women’s subjects
    • Unequal funding for athletics
    • Employment bias
  • Women have made strides in continuing education
interactionist view
Interactionist View
  • Labeling approach suggests that if people are treated in particular ways, they may fulfill expectations

Teacher-expectation effect: Impact of teacher expectations and their large role on student performance

bureaucratization of schools
Bureaucratization of Schools
  • Weber noted five characteristics of bureaucracy:
  • Division of labor
  • Hierarchy of authority
  • Written rules and regulations
  • Impersonality
  • Employment based on technical qualifications
teachers employees and instructors
Teachers: Employees and Instructors
  • Teachers undergo many stresses
    • Between a quarter and a third of new teachers quit within their first 3 years
  • Fewer students choose teaching as career due to perceived low income
    • In 2007, 4.7% first-year college students were interested in elementary education and 4.7% in high school education
student subcultures
Student Subcultures
  • In colleges:
  • Collegiate subculture
  • Academic subculture
  • Vocational subculture
  • Nonconformist subculture
    • Each student is exposed to competing subcultures and must determine which seems most in line with his or her feelings and interests
  • More than 2 million children are educated at home
  • Good alternative for children with ADHD and LD
  • Homeschooled children score higher on standardized tests
  • Some theorists cite lack of social involvement as problem