Q. Religion and its functions- The functionalist and conflict perspectives.

Introduction :

Words are very curious things.Most words have fairly vague meanings that depend on context.Some words have so many meanings that you need to define them quite specifically before using them in any precise way. Religion is one such word. Religion is a universal found in every culture.Google defines religion as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”.We usually associate religion with moral behavior but religion is much more than such thoughts.It offers human beings a world view and provides answers for puzzling questions.

Durkheim defined it as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, uniting into a single moral community all those who adhere to those beliefs and practices”. Religion is simply a system of beliefs, practices, rituals and symbols that relate to a community’s orientation to the supernatural. A sociologist is not concerned with the truth or falsity of any given religion; he only takes an objective look at religion- its functions, foundations and consequences.

Functions of religion :

Religion fulfills several basic needs of the people.

First, religion gives meaning and purpose to life. Second, religion helps bring social unity and stability.Third, Religion is an agent of social control and helps strengthen social order. A fourth function of religion is greater psychological and physical well-being. The final function of religion is that it motivates people to work for positive social change.

It has both latent and manifest functions. Among the manifest(open and intended) functions of religion are included defining the spiritual world and giving meaning to the divine. On the other hand latent functions of religion are unintended and hidden. The believers of functionalism suggest that religion is a requirement for society and individual because it serves...

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