Sociological Perspective Sociology

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The sociological approach focuses on religious groups and institutions (their formation, maintenance, and demise), on the behaviour of individuals within those groups (social processes which affect conversation, ritual behaviour), and on conflicts between religious groups (catholic versus protestant, Christian versus Muslim, mainline denomination versus cult) (Roberts, 1990). For the sociologist, beliefs are only small part of religion (Roberts, 1990). In modern society, religion is both a set of ideas (values, beliefs) and an institution (a set of social relationships) (Roberts, 1990). Sociology looks at religion in order to understand how they affect human behaviour, also the differences in beliefs not because they expect to prove their truth…show more content…
Religious institutions, however, can also affect behaviour quite independently of beliefs (Roberts, 1990). In fact, religious institutions sometimes entice people to behave contrary to the official belief system of that religion (Roberts, 1990). There are many ways in which religious groups, religious values, and secular processes can be interrelated (Roberts, 1990). Beliefs are not always at the heart of religious behaviour, social scientists have found that persons sometimes become committed to new religious groups with little knowledge of the group’s beliefs (Roberts, 1990). They become committed through group pressures and social processes (Roberts, 1990). Sociologists are convinced that knowing what a group believes provides insights only into one small part of this complex phenomenon we call religion (Roberts, 1990). Sociology focuses on the social dimension of religion and…show more content…
The haves use every tool available, including coercion and ideology, to sustain their advantageous position over the have not’s (Roberts, 1990). Understanding modern industrial society does not necessitate an analysis of cultural values and beliefs. The basic issue is economic conflict. Hence, Marx is often identified as the father of modern conflict theory (Roberts, 1990). He maintained that values and beliefs basically operate (after the fact) to justify the self- interests of various groups. Along this line, Marx viewed religion as an ideology that justified the current social arrangements (Roberts, 1990). It served as a tool of the upper classes and helped to maintain stability. Marx, like Durkheim, viewed religion as a force for social integration. But for Marx, this had a tragic consequence, religion served to maintain an unjust status quo. Religion acts to unite persons of various classes when, according to Marx, all persons of the lower class should be uniting against all those in the upper class (Roberts, 1990). In fact, the ideology promised rewards in an afterlife for conformity in this world had as much of a pacifying effect as opium (Roberts,

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