Presentation on theme: "Chapter 15 Religion. Culture Wars Culture wars: Tensions over religious and sacred values that have arisen as a result of efforts to separate church and."— Presentation transcript:
Culture Wars Culture wars: Tensions over religious and sacred values that have arisen as a result of efforts to separate church and state. Example: The abortion debate, since it is typically framed by religious values on one side and secular values on the other.
Religion Religion: – As substantively defined, a system of beliefs and practices that has a particular kind of content, usually a god or supernatural force; – As functionally defined, a system of beliefs and practices that answers otherwise unanswerable questions or binds people together through a shared commitment to something sacred.
Ways to Define Religion Substantive: – A substantive definition restricts the label of religion to a system of beliefs and practices that has a particular kind of content, usually a god or supernatural force. – It stipulates what religion is.
Ways to Define Religion Functional: A functional definition defines religion in terms of what is does.
Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915) The sacred refers to things set apart as exceptional and worthy of awe and reverence. The profane consists of the common things of everyday life, whose value rests in their practical usefulness.
Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915) “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices…which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (Durkheim 1915: 62).
Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915) Durkheim emphasized how religion brought people together who share a commitment to the same sacred symbol and who are then united in a moral community. The bonding is what is significant, not the object of devotion.
Figure 15.3 Percentage Citing Comfort and Strength from Religion
Max Weber’s The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Protestant ethic: The belief that worldly successes stemming from individual responsibility and a compulsion to save and invest are a sign of God’s favor.
Max Weber’s The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) The Protestant Ethic was ideally suited to the development of early capitalism: – Emphasis on individual responsibility and striving – Compulsion to save and not spend
Max Weber’s The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) The religious basis eventually dropped out as modern capitalism absorbed the spirit of the protestant ethic
Max Weber’s The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Modern society is marked by increasing rationalization, i.e. process wherein precise calculation of means, ends, and goals spreads into all areas of social life
Max Weber’s The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Rationalization leads to a “loss of enchantment” (i.e. disenchantment) with the modern world Disenchantment and rationalization would inevitably result in the decline of religion, or secularization
Durkheim Religion serves an essential social function “There can be no society which does not feel the need of upholding and reaffirming at regular intervals the collective sentiments and the collective ideas which make its unity and its personality.” —Durkheim (1915: 474-475)
Talcott Parsons While the individual need for religion remained vital, the institutional and cultural reach of religion has greatly diminished. Theology has relinquished its interest in cognitive explanations that compete with science, concentrating instead on purely spiritual and moral concerns.
Figure 15.4 Percentage Citing Importance of God in Their Lives
Figure 15.5 Percentage Attending Religious Services
Rational Choice Theory (RTC) of Religion Humans have a need for compensations for the uncertainties presented by the issues of life and death. The greater the number of religious sources providing compensations, the greater the vitality of religious activity.
Religiosity Religiosity: The amount of “religiousness” in society, usually measured by such variables as attendance of religious services, church membership, individual (financial) contributions to a church or religious institution, and belief in God.
Wade Clark Roof and William McKinney (1987) Enormous increase in cultural pluralism, including religious individualism. American values have always included an emphasis on individual autonomy. Growth of expressive individualism since the 1960s. Finding oneself has become a central quest.
Expressive Individualism Expressive individualism: A term relating to the increased emphasis since the 1960s (in both the secular and the religious context) on the pursuit of a free, gratified, and fulfilled self.
Ethnography Ethnography: A research method that involves immersing oneself in a natural research setting in order to develop an understanding of the people, culture, and society being studied.
New Age New Age: An umbrella term that covers a mix of beliefs, practices, and ways of life, all of which share the element of “self- spirituality.” These beliefs and practices emphasize making contact with the innate spirituality in people and shifting from a contaminated, artificial sense of being (brought about by socialization) to one representing pure and authentic nature.
Gemeinschaft & Gesellschaft Gemeinschaft: A term used to describe societies that have a strong feeling of cohesiveness. It is often thought to be characteristic of premodern societies. Gesellschaft: A term describing relationships characterized by individualism and impersonal connections between people. It arose in opposition to Gemeinschaft as a result of urbanization.
Anomie Anomie: A term referring to lack of cohesion and loss of shared norms and values in society. In his work The Division of Labor in Society, Émile Durkheim identified anomie as one of the potential problems of modern society.
Civil Religion Bellah (1970) uses the term civil religion to refer to secular practices that involve the use of sacred rituals and ceremonies. Example: swearing allegiance to the flag in the United States
Deprivatization Deprivatization: The process by which religion has reemerged from the private sphere. Following deprivatization, religious beliefs are no longer purely personal preferences but, rather, become the topic of public argument; in addition, public matters are remoralized.
Dedifferentiation Dedifferentiation: Reversal of the trend toward increasing differentiation into specialized religious institutions that were thought to be aspects of modernization.
Study Questions What are the two main types of definition? In what respect did Émile Durkheim operate with a mixed definition of religion? What is a civil religion? Describe the main ideas contained in Weber’s Protestant Ethic thesis.
Study Questions (cont.) Why did Durkheim think that there can be no society that does not have some kind of religion? How did Parsons elaborate Durkheim’s belief in religion’s continuing relevance for modern society?
Study Questions (cont.) What might account for the higher levels of religiosity in America compared with many European countries? What do Wade Clark Roof and William McKinney mean when they talk about an increase in “expressive individualism” since the 1960s?
Study Questions (cont.) Discuss what is meant by the terms deprivatization and dedifferentiation in the context of describing the changing place of religion in late modern (or postmodern) society.