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Level 1

Topic 1 (What is religion, functionalist, marxist

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Substantive definition
focuses on content and substance of religious belief including belief in supernatural/God
Functional definition
focuses on social/physical functions religion performs
Functionalist: sacred Vs. profane, Totemism, religion provides cognitive funtions
set apart, forbidden, inspring feelsing of awe, fear and wander, society is sacred
no special significance, ordinary and mudane
Study of Aboriginal Austrailians (Arunta tribe) who worshipped totems, strengthening social solidarity
Object from the natural world
Cognitive functions of religion
religion is the origin of all concepts we need for understanding and communicating; collective conscience (reinvigorates individuals)
Criticises Durkhiems theory of Totemsim as unsound with no sharp evidence and it can only be applied to small societies
Criticises Durkhiems theory of Totemism as it can't be applied to contemporary societies
Functionalist: religion creates value and meaning, it legitimises central values, answers 'ultimate' questions and creates value consensus
Value consensus
provides a set of guidlines (norms)
Civil religion- a belief that attatches sacred qualities to society itself e.g Americanism
Functionalist: Ethnographic study of Trobriand Island tribe who used religion to deal with life crisis and unpredictable events
Life crisis
Malinowsky describes this as events that cause tension or anxiety e.g death religion helps to deal with this
unpredictable events
Malinowsky describes this as fishing in deepwaters as oppose to the safe lagoons. Tribes would use 'canoe magic' to confont this
evaluation of functionalists
Functionalists neglect negative aspects such as patriarchy and ignore religion as source of conflict
Marxist Ideology
Bourgeiousie control economic production as well as distribution of ideas in society
false-class consciousness
Marxism: A false reality
justifying the ruling class
Marxist idea of the ruling classes being divinely ordained + quotes like 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven'
Marxist idea: becoming isolated; capitalism excentuates this as workers are alienated due to not owning what they produce= no freedom=dehumanised conditions
"religion is the.....of the people" Karl Marx
Evaluation of Marxism
ignores positive functions
Criticise Marx; reject alientation as unscientific and based on a 'romantic' idea that humans have a 'true self'
Abercrombie and Turner
Criticise Marx; in pre-capital society Christianity only had limited impact on the peasantry
Feminism: Evidence of patriarchy: segregated texts, restricted participation for women e.g. menustration; sacred texts, laws and customs etc.However not always patriarchal (Tiamat)
Feminsm: exclusion from catholic priesthood is evidence of church's unease about emancipation
Feminism: public/private divide between gender roles + inequality in world religions e.g. islam, christianity. Sikhism however more equal
Feminism:patriarchy re-shaped religion e.g. men interpret beliefs to suit them
Feminism: Male Gaze & Veils: veil protects women whereas Western fashion caters to male gaze and women learn to objectify themselves