Religion is seen to perform functions for not only the individual but for society as a whole. It is believed that it promotes shared values and beliefs, social integration and social solidarity through a value consensus. A value consensus maintains social order and a shared set of norms and values are vital for the social order to perform right. Functionalists see religion as a vital agent for secondary socialisation.
A main theorist is Durkheim; Durkheim aimed to achieve two things, he wanted to establish the idea that religion was not divinely or supernaturally inspired and was caused by society. Secondly he look out to identify the common understandings on which religion placed an emphasis on, additionally what effect religious beliefs had on the lives of individuals and the general society. Durkheim was concerned with social solidarity; primarily he believed religion as a functional source of socialisation. He believed this as when we look at religion we can notice that it pulls people together mentally and physically for example through services or gatherings.
When looking at religion Durkheim creates two sides of the world. The ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’; the sacred refers to the members of society who are known as special, they may be religious, spiritual or holy and those are in some ways extraordinary and inspirational. Then the profane is the normal, everyday person who is non-sacred and non-spiritual. When looking at the sacred, Durkheim points out that there does not have to be a God, or something supernatural but could be something that any person holds close to them – whether this is a home, a teddy or a person.
Durkheim makes us look at religion as a way of social cohesion, to view it as how it bonds people together. For example he would explain religion to teach us how to conform by teaching us morals and norms; doing this we learn social control and order. This theory and way of looking at religion gives us a good understanding of religion,...