Functionalists examine the functionality of each structure to determine how it contributes to the stability of society as a whole. When applied to the sociological study of religion, this approach views religion as a functional entity within society because it creates social cohesion and integration by reaffirming the bonds that people have with each other. In the functionalist view, religious rituals express the spiritual convictions of the members of the religion and help increase the belongingness of the individuals to the group.
Without these, society would disintegrate. To maintain social integration and the collective conscience, regular shared religious rituals bind individuals together and participating in these remind them that they are a part of a single moral community to which they owe their loyalty.
Rituals also have another role in which they remind individuals of the power of society- without which they themselves are nothing and to which they owe everything. He sees religion not only as the source of solidarity but also of their intellectual or cognitive capacities.
For example, in order to think at all we need categories such as time, space, cause and number etc. Along with this, in order to share our thoughts we need to use the same categories as others.
Durkheim links this to his study of tribes where the divisions of tribes into clans give humans their first notion of classification. Thus, for Durkheim, religion is the origin of human thought, reason and science.
Furthermore, even if Durkheim is right about totemism, in no way does it prove he has discovered the essence of all other religions.
He identifies two types of situation in which religion performs this role: He uses the example of fishing in a lagoon and fishing in the ocean from his study of the Trobriand islanders of the western pacific.
As lagoon fishing is safe and uses the predictable and successful of poisoning, islanders perform no ritual when fishing there.
This gives the islanders a sense of control which eases tension, gives them confidence and reinforces group solidarity. He sees performing rituals as a god of the gaps- because it fills the gaps in human beings control over the world, such as being unable to control the outcome of an ocean fishing trip.
Religion helps to minimise disruption. An example of this comes from funeral rituals, which reinforce a feeling of solidarity among survivors because the notion of immortality gives comfort to the bereaved by denying the fact of death.
Overall, Malinowski argues that death is the main reason for the existence of religious beliefs because it promotes solidarity. Parson agrees with Malinowski that religion helps individuals to cope with unforeseen events and uncontrollable outcomes.
He adds to this theory his identification of two other essential functions that religion performs in modern society: For example, in America, Protestants have sacralised the core American values of meritocracy and self-discipline. Such events defy our sense of justice and makes life appear meaningless, which can undermine our commitment to societies values.
Religion provides answers to such questions, for example, by explaining suffering as a test of faith that will be rewarded in heaven and by doing so religion enables people to adjust to adverse events and helps maintain stability.
Civil religion can claim the loyalty of all Americans whilst none of the many individual churches can.
Bellah argues that civil religion integrates society in a way that individual religions cannot.
This is because American civil religion involves loyalty to the state and a belief in God, both of which are associated with being a true American. The religion is expressed in various rituals, symbols and beliefs such as, the pledge of allegiance to the flag, singing the national anthem and the Lincoln memorial.
It sacralises the American way of life and therefore binds together Americans from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Marxists would argue that religion, far from being an instrument of social solidarity, is an instrument of social control and exploitation.Structural Functionalism.
Like the sociological frameworks provided by conflict analysis, structural functionalism is an approach to studying religion from a sociological perspective that is arguably of interest primarily from a historical view. The Functionalist Perspective on Religion. Functions of Religion.
The functionalist perspective, which originates from Emile Durkheim’s work on religion, highlights the social role of religion. The structural-functional approach to religion has its roots in Emile Durkheim’s work on religion.
Durkheim argued that religion is, in a sense. Free Essay: Discuss the functionalist perspective on religion. (20 marks) The functionalist perspective is a consensus theory; it believes that society has a.
Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is "a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability". This approach looks at society through a macro-level orientation, which is a broad focus on the social structures that shape society as a whole,  and.
Another functionalist believer is Talcott Parsons; he believes that religion is an institution which is a significant contributor to the norms and values of society.
Parsons argues that Religion helped form the value consensus which is needed for stability in society. “The difference between conflict and functionalist theories on religion are: *Conflict theory refers to religion as “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of the soulless condition.
It is the opium of the people”. Functionalism is a structural.