Essay about The Goal of Functionalism in Religion

Essay about The Goal of Functionalism in Religion

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The goal of functionalism, with regards to religion, is to analyze religion and explain its purpose by showing what role it plays for humans within society. Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx were all functionalist who developed theories as to why religion was such a major part of their society. Their views are very different from the two theorists E.B. Tylor and James Frazer, as they believed humans were using religion to try and explain the unknowns in the world. Though all three of the men took a fundamentalist approach to religion, their theories to explain religion have some major differences between them. Sigmund Freud, who is predominately known for his work in psychology, tried to explain religion by saying it is merely an illusion. Emile Durkheim, also known as the father of sociology, claimed that religion is the result of societies need for group cohesion. The final functionalist is Karl Marx who in his famous quote stated religion, “…is the opium of the people.” While all three functionalists have reasonable theories on the explanation of religion’s prominent role within society, Karl Marx’s theory that religion is a tool used to keep the proletariat from protesting against their already miserable lives, is superior to both Freud’s and Durkheim’s theories as they fail to hold consistent with societies views over time. Marx’s theory will hold true until there is no longer scarcity in society.
Karl Marx was a man who was very concerned with economics, more specifically market or capitalistic economies. In Capitalism, production is mainly from private industries where the bourgeoisie who have enough capital are able to exploit the labor of the proletariat and turn it into profit. What Capitalism does well is it...


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... The test has to be repeatable and Durkheim fails to show firsthand evidence of other similar cultural examples.
While all three functionalists provided interesting theories to the function of religion, the Marxist theory is superior or to its evidence in today’s society. With the growth of capitalism throughout the global economy, it is easy to witness the economic disparity between the proletariats and the bourgeoisie. There is also a clear correlation between the disappearing role religion is playing in modern society and protest by the proletariat do reduce the amount of power the top 1% earners have in society. Karl Marx would tell no undoubtedly attribute the correlation back his theory that people use religion to cope with the unfair economic conditions they are in. With the influence of religion decreasing, people feel no obligation to be content anymore.

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