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Identify and Briefly Explain one Advantage and Two Disadvantages of Functional Definitions of Religion

Essay by   •  September 30, 2011  •  Essay  •  282 Words (2 Pages)  •  9,041 Views

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One Criticism of Functionalism in defining religion is that the conservative force says that it is difficult to see how religion can be functioning to socialize the majority of society's members into morality and social integration if only a minority of people regularly attend church. Durkheim tried to use the idea of totems bringing a 'clan' together and that the society used this totem as a way of worshipping togetherness. However Durkheim only used a small number of aboriginal groups so it could be misleading to use this to generalize all aborigines let alone religion as a whole.

An advantage of functional definitions of religion an example of collective worship within a country of civil religion to show that there is still evidently collective worship for example America's new collection of beliefs, rituals and symbols with respect to things that are established in American society, it is not opposed to Christianity and in fact shares a lot in common with it but is not in any extent Christian. Allows the bringing together of the nation and allows the symbolization of the nation as the "people", so therefore the people in America worship Americanism.

Another criticism of the functional definitions of religion is that it ignores dysfunctional aspects and gives little consideration to hostility between different religious group for example N Ireland and Bosnia. These religious diversions have caused social disruption and conflict rather than promoting social order which Durkheim says is maintained by the teaching of moral norms and values and creating a collective conscience where everyone sticks together so therefore this is proven false on the aspect of it being relevant to all religions due to the religious conflict in Ireland and Bosnia.

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