Importance And Prevalence Of Religion And Religious Practice Essay

Importance And Prevalence Of Religion And Religious Practice Essay

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In this paper, I will examine some of the factors contributing to the importance and prevalence of religion and religious practice in some societies and how the concept of religion and religious practice has had an impact on the development of capitalism, particularly in western societies. Looking at the works of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber and their studies of religion and other writings drawing upon the ideologies of Durkheim and Weber, I will attempt to explain and extrapolate some of the reasons for the continuing nature of religion in many societies, in one form or another. While both Durkheim and Weber spent a great deal of time studying religion in society, the views and ideas they developed regarding religion were developed and obtained through very different approaches to their study of religion. However, both Durkheim and Weber, made remarkable observations about religion, religious practice and the overall impact it has on society.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917, a French Sociologist, in his work, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), explores religion as a social phenomenon. He took a functionalist view towards religion focuses on the utility and effect of religion on individuals and society. After examining a number of religions and their practices ranging from very primitive to more modern forms of religion Durkheim determined that all religions in one way or another share a number of universal characteristics and thus one way he described religion is in the following way:
Thus we arrive at the following definition: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral commu...


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...itions, but to a certain extent appears to be a result of them. (Weber 1905, 3-4)

So Weber observed that the role of the church in individual lives had a tendency to affect how people acted, as Weber states, “The rule of the Catholic Church, “punishing the heretic, but indulgent to the sinner”, as it was in the past even more than to-day.” (Weber 1905, 4) By contrast the ideology of Protestantism was based more on individual responsibility for one’s actions and to live a good and ethical life and predestination, as Sara R. Farris, from The Institute for Advanced Studies in Konstanz, Germany, in her article, Religion as the source of the self: Max Weber’s hypothesis, states from Weber, “That on Protestantism (and especially Calvinism) could give rise to modern capitalism, via the concept of Beruf (Profession) and the theory of predestination.” (Farris 2012, 36)

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