Emile Durkheim's Relationship Between Religion And Society

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In his attempt to arrive at the foundation of religion, i.e. the basic constituents of every religion, Emile Durkheim studies the Australian cults in terms of beliefs, practices and collective behavior. According to Durkheim, these Australian tribes are primitive societies that, therefore, are easy to examine and to arrive at a conclusion from such examination. A tone of arrogance is felt here in the choice of the sample and the description mentioned but it is quite understandable in the context of the colonial 20th century Europe. The stress on the use of the scientific method and even some scientific terms is also pretty obvious in Durkheim’s writing. For example, Durkheim says: “We have not dreamed for a moment of ignoring…show more content…
It is really interesting how two of the greatest world sociologists arrive at completely opposite conclusions on an important issue like religion. What is even more interesting is that they start from almost the exact same point which is that religion is in the realm of social and it is man-made (Marx). Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber were interested in the relationship between religion and society. The three of them have had huge contributions to the field of sociology and since religion (in the broader sense) is one of the very powerful forces in most societies it makes sense to devote some time to study it. Weber is interested in the context in which religions are practiced more than the content of each religion; he is closer to Durkheim than to Marx in this sense. He tries to arrive at the motive people follow religions or what exactly makes religions that attractive. His conclusion can be boiled down into the idea of the promises of religion (theodicies of fortune and misfortune). All religions promise some sort of reward, be it heaven or salvation or happiness in the after-life, as a solution for the problem of evil. Unlike…show more content…
The theodicy of misfortune is a point where Weber seems close to Marx’s understanding of religion as “the opium of masses”, however, it is obvious that Weber speaks much more positively of the issue than Marx. Weber’s essay “The Protestant Ethic and the spirit of capitalism” explains how a religious belief resulted in the rise of the world’s most dominant economic system i.e. capitalism. Protestants are believers in predestination, they believed they are saved in the afterlife no matter what they do in their lives but for them to be good messengers of God, they must show the people that they are saved and therefore happy and wealthy. This is where the ideas of saving and investment started to take over which are the pillars of capitalism. As far-fetched as this argument might seem, I find it very convincing and coherent especially when revising the history of both movements: reformation and capitalism. This is another point where the

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