Sociological Perspectives On The Nature Of Religion Essay

Sociological Perspectives On The Nature Of Religion Essay

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Religion has been a source of fascination to the scientists for very many years, hundreds of years. Anthropological theories of taboos and totem, sociological theories of functionalism, biological investigations of the ‘religious mind, or the evolutionary theories of optimal adaptation, are just a few of the examples of the several attempts to understand the origin and the prominent existence of religion in the human societies. It is argued that a fundamental feature of any of these religion theories should be an explanation between two aspects that are most observed, the individual and the social aspects. While the individual aspect relates to the beliefs of the individual about supernatural abilities and powers, the social perspective is about the religious rituals collectively conducted and that the religions often prescribe how to behave in various social interactions. Religion is often discussed in its sociological perspective, where several perspectives are given. These sociological perspectives include functionalistic, conflict, and symbolic interaction. Discussed here will be the religion in the functionalistic perspective.


Religion can be defined as an organized collection of cultural systems, beliefs, and world views relating humanity to an order of existence (Harrison). For many religions, there exist symbols, narratives, and sacred histories tat try to explain the meaning of life and its origin, as well as the origin of the universe. They have beliefs about human nature and the cosmos, and it is from these beliefs that people derive ethics, morality, preferred lifestyle and the religious laws. It is also a fact that various religions usually have organized clergy, behavior, scriptures, holy places, and a definition o...


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...on will always support the status quo in its priestly function.
In conclusion, the functionalistic perspective of religion gives us an understanding of the roles and functions of religion in the society. Functionalistic definitions of religion mentions the various functions of religion, often the broad psychological and structural functions. These include social cohesion, social control and provision of purpose and meaning. Several authors agree on these three basic functions while others prefer breaking down these primary functions to give several specific functions. There are a good number of these functions and some are as discussed in this essay. They include agent of social change, source of identity, answering ultimate questions, offering emotional support, providing rites of passage, creating a moral community and acting as an integrative force among others.

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