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© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. Mirror for Humanity Conrad Phillip Kottak Fifth Edition Chapter 10 Religion
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. Overview Expressions of religion Religion and social control Kinds of religion Religion and change Secular rituals
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Anthropology of religion –Wallace’s definition of religion – belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces –Anthropologists have stressed the collective, shared, and enacted nature of religion, the emotions it generates, and the meanings it embodies Durkheim – religious effervescence – collective emotional intensity generated by worship Turner’s notion of communitas – an intense community spirit; a feeling of great social solidarity, equality, and togetherness
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Anthropology of religion –Like ethnicity and language, religion is associated with social divisions within and between societies and nations –Religion is a cultural universal, but societies conceptualize divinity, supernatural entities, and ultimate realities very differently
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –E. B. Tylor First anthropologist to study religion Proposed that religion evolved through three stages: animism, then polytheism, and finally monotheism –Animism Belief in spiritual beings According to Tylor, animism originated from peoples’ attempts to explain dreams and trances –Polytheism – belief in multiple gods –Monotheism – belief in a single, all-powerful deity
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Mana – a sacred impersonal force that can reside in people, animals, plants, and objects –Belief in mana was especially prominent in Melanesia –Melanesian mana: Similar to our notion of efficacy or luck Could be acquired by chance or through hard work, and manipulated in different ways (e.g., magic) Success was attributed to mana, and failure to a lack of mana – thus, notion of mana provided an explanation for differential success that people could not understand in ordinary, natural terms
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Polynesian mana: Mana was attached to political offices Chiefs and nobles had more mana than ordinary people did Chiefs had so much mana that contact with them, or with things they touched, was considered dangerous to commoners Thus, the bodies and possessions of high chiefs were taboo – set apart as sacred and off-limits to ordinary people
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Magic and religion Magic – supernatural techniques intended to accomplish specific aims Imitative magic – magicians produce a desired effect by imitating it (e.g., use of “voodoo dolls”) Contagious magic – whatever is done to an object is believed to affect a person who once had contact with it Magic can be associated with animism, mana, polytheism, or monotheism
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Uncertainty, anxiety, and solace Religion and magic can help reduce anxiety Malinowski argued that people turn to magic as a means of control when they face uncertainty and danger –Trobriand Islanders used magic only in situations (e.g., sailing) that they could not control – that is, times of psychological stress –In contemporary societies, magic persists as a means of reducing psychological anxiety in situations of uncertainty
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Rituals: Behavior that is formal (stylized, repetitive, and stereotyped) and performed in sacred places at set times Include liturgical orders – sequences of words and actions invented prior to the current performance of the ritual in which they occur Convey information about the participants and their traditions Translate enduring messages, values, and sentiments into action Inherently social – by participating in rituals, performers signal that they accept a common social and moral order
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Rites of passage: Customs associated with the transition from one place or stage of life to another Three phases: –Separation – participants withdraw from the group and begin moving from one place or status to another –Liminality – period between states, during which the participants have left one place or state but have not yet entered or joined the next –Incorporation – participants reenter society with a new status, having completed the rite
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Rites of passage: Liminality involves the temporary suspension and even reversal of ordinary social distinctions, behaviors, and expectations Communitas – an intense community spirit, a feeling of great social solidarity, equality, and togetherness during collective liminality “Permanent liminal groups” (e.g., sects, brotherhoods, cults) exist in certain societies, particularly nation-states
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Totemism Important in Native Australian societies, as well as Native American groups of the North Pacific coast Each descent group had a totem (an animal, plant, or geographical feature) from which they claimed descent Members of a totemic group did not kill or eat their totem, except once a year when people gathered for ceremonies dedicated to the totem
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Expressions of religion –Totemism Totemism uses nature as a model for society –People relate to nature through their totemic association with natural species –Each group has a different totem, so natural diversity becomes a model for social diversity –At the same time, unity of the social order is enhanced by symbolic association with totems, all of which are part of nature
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Social control –Religions help ensure proper behavior: Offer rewards and punishments Many prescribe a code of ethics and morality –Throughout history, political leaders have used religion to promote and justify their views and policies –Leaders may mobilize people either by persuasion or by instilling hatred or fear
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Social control –Witch hunts Powerful means of social control – create a climate of danger and insecurity Witchcraft accusations are often directed at socially marginal or anomalous individuals – people who can be accused and punished with least chance of retaliation Accusations may serve as a leveling mechanism –Leveling mechanism – a custom or social action that operates to reduce status differences and thus to bring standouts in line with community norms
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Kinds of religion –Religion is a cultural universal, but religious beliefs and practices vary cross- culturally –Wallace identified four types of religion: Shamanic Communal Olympian Monotheistic
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Kinds of religion –Shamanic religion Most characteristic of foraging societies Shamans: –Part-time religious figures who mediate between people and supernatural beings and forces –Examples: curers, mediums, spiritualists, astrologers, palm readers, diviners Shamans often assume a different or ambiguous sex or gender role – sets them off symbolically from ordinary people
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Kinds of religion –Communal religion Found among some foragers, but more typical of farming societies Both shamans and community rituals (e.g., harvest ceremonies, collective rites of passage) Communal religions are polytheistic – their adherents believe in several deities who control aspects of nature
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Kinds of religion –Olympian religion First appeared in states Full-time, professional priesthoods that are hierarchically and bureaucratically organized, like the state itself Olympian religions are polytheistic – pantheons of powerful anthropomorphic gods with specialized functions
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Kinds of religion –Monotheistic religion Priesthoods All supernatural phenomena are manifestations of, or are under the control of, a single eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent supreme being
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion World religions –Largest religions: Christianity – more than 2 billion practitioners Islam – 1.2 to 1.3 billion practitioners Hinduism – 786 million practitioners Buddhism – 362 million practitioners –More than a billion people claim no official religion
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Religion and change –Revitalization movements: Social movements that occur in times of change Religious leaders emerge and undertake to alter or revitalize a society Examples: –Beginnings of Christianity –Colonial-era Iroquois reformation led by Handsome Lake
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Religion and change –Cargo cults: Revitalization movements that emerge when traditional communities have regular contact with industrial societies but lack their wealth, technology, and living standards Name is derived from a focus on European cargo Indigenous communities attempt to: –Explain European domination and wealth –Achieve similar success magically – by mimicking European behavior and manipulating symbols of the desired lifestyle
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Religion and change –Cargo cults in Melanesia and Papua New Guinea: Blended Christian doctrine with aboriginal beliefs and practices Melanesians believed that all wealthy people eventually had to give their wealth away—like big men Europeans refused to distribute their wealth or let natives know the secret of its production and distribution Cargo cults emerged as a means of magically leveling Europeans Paved the way for unified political action – indigenous communities eventually regained their autonomy
© 2007 McGraw-Hil Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Religion Secular rituals –Ritual-like behavior can occur in secular contexts –The supernatural and the natural may not be distinguished consistently in a society Can be difficult to define what constitutes religion and what does not –Behavior considered appropriate for religious occasions varies cross-culturally
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