What is the Sociology of Religion?

The sociology of religion looks at the sacred, awe-inspiring beliefs and practices of a community. 

Sociologists tend to look at how the procedures of fundamentalism and secularization are influenced by religious pluralism -- a system where more than one religion is accepted in a society.

They also investigate why people join religions, why certain religions are more widespread, and how religion affects people's behaviour, to name a few areas that they study.

The two schools of sociological thought that study religion the most are functionalism and conflict theory. Here is what each believes:

If you don't remember or don't know the 4 paradigms of sociology, read this article before continuing on.

Functionalists view religion as a device that promotes social cohesion, addresses ultimate questions and can influence social change. They also view religion as a positive element of society because it gives people support in times of crisis, provides people with social services, and legitimizes political authority.

Conflict theorists, on the other hand, see religion as a distraction to the real issues. Karl Marx, the father of social conflict theory, said that religion is an "opiate of masses" (referring to the drug opium) because he sees it as a machine, which numbs people into a false consciousness where they begin to accept the ruling class's ideology. Therefore, religion legitimizes social and economic oppression.

Additionally, the sociologists who study religion and its impact on society most are Marx, Emile Durkhiem, and Max Weber. 

Religion is one of the oldest social institutions. It has impacted many people and many civilizations. This, it is important to learn about it.

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