SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
Sociology of religion
Q.1 WhyReligion Exists and it Relevance in Modern Society
Religion is adeep, powerful, and influential force that affects the human societyas a whole. It affects the relationships that humans have with eachother, community ties, family relationships, the political, and alsoeconomic aspects of life. The main reason why religion still existsis that it gives people an identity, beliefs, and ideologies thatthey can believe. Religion provides answers to various issues in lifethat science has failed or does not even try to explain. Religion isan old institution and remains relevant in the modern world despitethe changes in social structures, the economy, educationalexperiences, and structural variations in the religion itself aroundthe world (Guthrie, 1996).
Oluwaseun, David& Issa (2014) asset that the belief remains relevant in themodern society due to the roles that it plays in society. Despiteappealing to people`s sense of identity, some influential people usethe faith both positively and negatively to foster particular agendasin society. For example, various religious leaders have used thefaith as a tool to incite violence among its supporters (Oluwaseun,David & Issa, 2014). This is easily seen in certain terroristorganizations and religious sects such as Boko Haram and Al Qaeda.Politicians also use the belief as a tool to wield power or fosterpolitical agenda while other people have also used it as a tool forsocial change that advances social interests. Religion`s ability toinfluence a large pool of individuals across the world has made it anexcellent tool for use to push social, economic, and politicalagendas (Oluwaseun, David & Issa, 2014).
Q. 2Theoretical Concepts in The
The functionalismtheory of religion explains that faith plays fundamental socialfunctions in society. According to this theory, beliefs influence thethinking and behavior of all people in the community (Hamilton,2001). It binds the community through affirming the common beliefsand ideologies that they hold. Under this theory, religion`s primaryfunction in society is to uphold the social order and roles of themembers. One important sub-theory of functionalism is rational choiceprinciple where religious affiliation is mostly done after a personanalyses the costs and benefits of joining a particular faith(Hamilton, 2001).
The theorypurports that one of the major influences of society is the need toown and control economic resources. Though this theory applies toliterary studies, it is also seen in religion as religious leadersare also able to control vast resources. Faith plays a vital role inmaintaining the inequality status quo by promising greater rewards inthe life after death. The theory asserts that religion is useful inconvincing people to be contented with what they have as they arelikely to get rewards after their death (Barbour, 1997). However, oneof the criticisms of this theory is that religion mostly advocatesfor equality in society rather than inequality (Barbour, 1997).
This theoryelucidates that a person`s self-concept mostly depends on theinterpretation of symbolic gestures, appearances, and actions made intheir interaction with others. The theory believes that society is ina state of flux, and people do not search for truth but the meaningsattached to numerous things around them. The sacred members andsymbols of a religion offer a sense of identity and belief as long asthe members of that religion don`t realize that religion is sociallyconstructed.
This is theexploration of ideas, experiences, and perspectives from a subjectivepoint. The theory explains that everyone has a different view onreligion that depends on their interaction with the same (Hamilton,2001). Under this theory, one`s ideologies only apply to themselves,and it may be difficult for others to comprehend a person`s beliefs.Dreams, near death experiences, visions, déjà vu and otherparanormal activities are examples of the application of this theory
The theorypropounds that religion is socially constructed from people`s ideasand from the ideas of other people that society has accepted to betrue. The cultural context of religion will also matter under thistheory where a person`s culture naturally influences religion.Religion in this regard is a mixture of an individual` aspects andideologies as well as that of society (Hamilton, 2001).
Since it is challenging to determine some of the real conceptsregarding religion, there are three ways of determining whether theresults given are right. This includes looking at one`s priorexperience, weighing how they interpret their results with othercomparable studies and looking at the available information on thetopic. The research methods look at the experience that other peoplehave had on the subject and try to find similar incidences in otherpeople. This is the quantitative method where a researcher will getthe experiences of a person such as a report of a near deathexperience and change it to statistics which can be analyzed. Thesemethods include the use of surveys and questionnaires to get data.Observation is another method where a person can immerse themselvesin a certain culture or religion to understand their way of beliefsand ideologies.
Barbour, I. G. (1997). Religion and science: Historical andcontemporary issues.
Guthrie, S. E. (1996). Religion: What is it?. Journal for theScientific Study of Religion, 412-419.
Hamilton, M. (2001). The sociology of religion: Theoretical andcomparative perspectives. Psychology Press.
Oluwaseun, A., DAVID, F. O., & ISSA, A. A. (2014). The role ofreligion in modern society: Masses opium or tool for development: ACase Study of Saw-Mill Area, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 6(1), 8.