2 Religion A Western concept like work/economy/politics/technology. In western society, Religion is mostly seen as a clearly delineated aspect of society, separate from the other terms above. Not the case within all cultures.Ex: Ancient Egypt
3 ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF RELIGION DEFINITION OF RELIGION: Any set of beliefs and practices involving the supernatural.Many cultures do not make a sharp distinction between the “natural” and the “supernatural.”ULURU,SACREDTO THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLES OFAUSTRALIA
5 Religious Perspectives in Anthropology Religious perspectives vary among Western and “primitive” societiesIn Western societies:Nature was ordained by heaven to be dominated and exploited to human’s desires and needs.In “primitive” societies:“Religion is present in human’s view of his/her place in the universe”“Human’s relatedness to the universe, nonhuman nature, reality & circumstance”Religion is evident in daily life, agriculture, hunting, health measures, arts, and crafts.
6 CULTURAL RELATIVISMThere are no “universal” standards by which all social and cultural groups can be evaluated.No one religion is superior to another.People’s religious beliefs and practices must be studied within the framework of their own culture and history.All religions are equally meaningful to their adherents.This is in contrast to ETHNOCENTRISM: The concept that one’s own culture or religion is superior to others and should be judged from that perspective.
7 ANTHROPOLOGY SEEKS TO UNDERSTAND The range and diversity of human beliefs and practices.What makes beliefs and practices meaningful to people.What the roles religion plays in the organization of cultures and societies.
8 Defining Religion within a Society 3 good basic questions to start with: Functional: What function (or role) does religion have in society?Does it provide a moral code? Explanations for natural events?Analytic: How is religion manifested in society?Through Narratives? Rituals? Ethics?Essentialist: What is the relationship between society and the supernatural?
9 INDIGENOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES Many indigenous groups have distinct religious systems of beliefs and practices in the same way that they have their own languages and cultures.
10 SyncretismCombining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought.
11 RELIGIOUS SYNCRETISMThrough time a culture’s religious beliefs and practices persist, but also change through incorporating new elements.Religions are adopted and transformed.FOR EXAMPLE: Early Christianity incorporated European paganism so that “Christ’s Mass” became integrated with pre Christian symbols and practices.
12 The Native American Church Peyote as a sacrament Combines Christian symbolism with traditional Native American symbolism
13 RELIGIONS FULFILL SOCIAL NEEDS They provide meaning in peoples’ lives.They help people manage anxiety and increase their sense of personal order.They reinforce the social order.They instigate social and cultural change.
14 RELIGIONS PROVIDE A “COSMOLOGY” A COSMOLOGY is a set of principles and/or beliefs about:The nature of life and death.How the universe was created.The origin of society.The relationship of individuals and groups to one another.The relationship of humans to nature.
15 CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGION SACRED NARRATIVESSYMBOLSSPIRITSSACRED POWERSRITUALSADDRESSING THE SUPERNATURAL
16 SACRED NARRATIVES“Myths” that recount historical events, heroes, gods, spirits, and the origin of all things.Anthropology defines “myth” as realities lived and stories told.Sacred narratives are integral to a society’s rituals, moral code, and organization.
18 S P I R I T SMost religions assert the world is filled with beings and powers that have life and consciousness separate from humans’, but whose existence cannot be scientifically validated.GOD: A spirit that is believed to have created the world, or who exerts control over the world.
19 SACRED POWERSMANA: A special kind of sacred power or energy that infuses the universe.Mana can be concentrated in humans, other creatures, spirits, and objects.Integral to many different religions across cultures.
20 ManaThe idea of mana arises from the awe inspired by strange, unusual, and powerful things.
22 RITUALSRituals are ceremonial acts with repeated, stylized gestures that manipulate religious symbols for specific purposes.People enact and reinforce their religious beliefs through these ritualized practices.
24 Symbols are Central to Rituals Dominant SymbolsThey are condensed, many different phenomena are given common expressionDominant symbol amounts to a fusion of divergent meaningsDominant ritual symbols entail a polarization of meaning
25 COMMUNING WITH THE SUPERNATURAL The majority of rituals are designed to commune with and/or control supernatural spirits and powers through a combination of:PRAYERSACRIFICEMAGIC
26 RELIGIOUS PRACTITIONERS SHAMAN: An average member of a community who is socially recognized as having the ability to mediate between humans and spirits.PRIEST: A person who is formally elected, appointed, or hired to a full-time religious office.
27 Characteristics of Priests Training (by other priests)Hold authority of officeConservators of TraditionHold scheduled ceremoniesfor congregationsRole-Models for congregantsOften full-time practitionersPerform scheduled ritualsOrganized into hierarchies
28 WITCHCRAFT AND SORCERY Witchcraft and sorcery are very common elements of religious beliefs and practices in many cultures.Based in earlier anthropologists’ research among “non Western” cultures: WITCHCRAFT isThe ability to harm others by harboring malevolent thoughts about them.SORCERY is the conscious and intentional use of magic.Witchcraft based in “Western” cultures is the intentional use of magic to aid or harm others, society, and the environment, and thus comparable to sorcery.AZANDEOF AFRICA
29 Sorcery and Witchcraft Develop because of inadequacies and/or to support the legal system
30 MAGICBelief that supernatural powers can be influenced through the use of ritual formulas.Sympathetic magic uses representational objects, such as dolls.Contagious magic is a direct relationship between ritual and the body, such as use of the subject’s hair or fingernails.
31 Oral & Written Religions Based on a sacred text‘Religions of the Book’Believers expected to have some knowledge of the textsSince text bound, these religions can be spread throughout the worldIslamNigeria, Java, Egypt, IranReligions of ConversionOne has to affirm one’s faithOral ReligionsLocally confined and locally relevantGods tend to be associated with revered places in the tribal areasTend to be embedded in social practices of society
32 Religion and the Human Capacity for Language Religion is made possible by our human ability to use language.No other animal has language or religion.
33 Language: A System of Symbolic Communication Symbol: An object or event that stands for some other object or event, the relationship between them being determined solely by consensus.- Helen Keller’s insight that “everything has a name”
34 Language and Culture Culture itself is made possible by language. Religion is the purest example of culture as a system of meaningful symbols.Religion provides a system of symbols which explain how humans are related to the world around them.In this, religion contrasts with science.
35 Religion and ScienceScience and Religion are different approaches to understanding our place in nature.Science is concerned with finding mundane, practical solutions to problems.Scientific “truths” are always tentative and changeable. They are simply our currently most useful explanations of phenomena based on the information we have so far.
36 The Paradox of “Social Science” In order to be useful for solving problems, scientists create mechanical models—models that help us understand how things work in terms of lawful, mechanistic relationships among the parts of the models.When applied to human social and cultural life, such “objective” models fail to capture the meaningfulness that life has for human groups.Science “thingifies” the universe—even when building models of the human condition- e.g., “The heart is a pump. The lungs are like bellows. The brain is like a computer.” Such analogies may help us solve practical problems such as how to repair a leaky heart valve, but they may also be a source of alienation and anomie for human subjects.
37 Anthropomorphic versus Mechanomorphic Models Humans do more than solve practical problems. We are not simply robots. Rather, we live in a world that is rife with existential meaningfulness.Anthropomorphism is any attribution of human characteristics to animals, non-living things, phenomena, objects, or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits, 0r deities.Mechanomorphic is a doctrine that the universe if fully explicable in mechanistic termsIn addition to thinking in practical terms, humans also “humanize” the world around them by projecting human qualities into the non-human world. This is common in:- Fantasy Play- Art- Courtship Love- Mental Disorders- Religion
38 Fantasy PlayChildren are born without language. Their normal mental state is an “altered state of consciousness” in which they perceive the external world as an extension of their own egos.In fantasy play, children spontaneously “project” human qualities into the world around them.- A sheet becomes a ghost.- A broom becomes an embodiment of theirconcept of “horse.”Such fantasy play transforms an unknown and potentially hostile environment into an extension of their own egos, making it seem safer and more controllable.Engaging in fantasy play involves ritual-like behavior.
39 ArtArtistic reverie is similar to fantasy play. It too is an altered state of consciousness in which the external world is treated as an extension of the human ego rather than as something separate and independent.Artistic performance, like fantasy play, involves role playing in which the boundaries between self and not-self are dissolved.- e.g., the dancer “becomes one with the music.”Like the rituals of religion, artistic performance can be highly choreographed.
40 Courtship LoveIn courtship love, we do not perceive our partner objectively either.- e.g., our beloved’s face becomes an embodiment of our concept of beauty.The rules of courtship also involve highly predictable patterns of behavior—i.e., “rituals.”
41 Mental DisordersMental Disorders also involve both trance states (states in which the normal boundary between self and not-self) is dissolved and ritual behavior (aka “symptoms”).Like the trance states and rituals of fantasy play, artistic reverie and performance, courtship love, and religion, they provide short-term relief from stress.
42 ReligionReligion too makes use of trance states and rituals that reduce our subjective experience of stress.As the most highly socialized system for entering trances and engaging in rituals, participants learn to channel both into appropriate times and settings.- In this, religion contrasts markedly withmental disorders.
43 Religious Anthropomorphism: Perceiving a Connection with the non-Human A chocolate Mary
44 Religion: A Definition Religion is a socially shared system of anthropomorphic beliefs and attendant feelings, both of which are expressed in words and in rituals by means of which nonhuman parts of the universe are thought to be influenced.No other animal can be described as “religious.”
51 Evolutionary When/how religion began This theory was introduced in the 1800s and went hand in hand with Modernism and the Enlightenment.Logic, science and Monotheism were the pinnacles of human achievementWestern Society represented this pinnaclePositivismThe only real knowledge is scientific knowledgeThis approach generally carries a lot of negative baggage and is seen as outdated.All other societies were seen as “primitive” compared to Western Society.The quest for Religion’s origins is still ongoing and many elements of Evolutionary Theory are now combined under the Psychosocial Approach…
52 SIR EDWARD B. TYLOR 1832-1917 A social evolutionist. He asserted that the development of religions from one stage to the next is universal throughout the world’s cultures:ANIMISM: Belief in souls, and that all things in the world are endowed with a soul.TOTEMISM: Religious practices centered around animals, plants, or other aspects of the natural world held to be ancestral or closely identified with a group and its individuals.POLYTHEISM: Belief in more than one, or many gods.MONOTHEISM: Belief in one god.
53 Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1871) Religion: the belief in spiritual beingsFunctions of religion: provides answers to perplexing questions about such phenomena as sleep, dreams, fainting, and death.
54 DEFINITION OF RELIGION “BELIEF IN SPIRITUAL BEINGS” – ANIMISM TYLOR’S MINIMALISTDEFINITION OF RELIGION“BELIEF IN SPIRITUAL BEINGS” – ANIMISMPrimitive people were rationalists and scientificphilosophers.The notion of spirits was not the outcome of irrationalthought.Preliterate religious beliefs and practices were not“ridiculous” or a “rubbish heap of miscellaneous folly.”They were essentially consistent and logical, based onrational thinking and empirical knowledge.
55 MAGIC > RELIGION > SCIENCE SIR JAMES FRAZERA Scottish ethnologist.The Golden Bough ( ): compares the myths, magical practices, and religions of the world’s cultures throughout history.Frazer developed the social evolutionary model of:MAGIC > RELIGION > SCIENCEHe asserted Australian Aborigines were the most primitive of all because they practiced only, what he defined their spirituality as, magic.
56 MarxistDeveloped in the 1800s around same time as the Evolutionary ApproachKarl MarxReligion as a construction of those in control of societyObey this religion & “us” and you will be happyA crutch for people too depressed by the miseries of capitalism.“Opiate of society”Religion functioned as a drug and diverted interest from the real political issues to silly fantasies about a happy afterlife and the pious and obedient.
57 MARX’S CRITIQUEMID 1800s: The history of the world is a history of class struggle between the “haves” and “have nots.”Every aspect of society is part of a superstructure determined by its economic base.Religion is part of the superstructure, and a false ideology that provides excuses for the oppressors to maintain the inequitable status quo.Belief in god or gods is an oppressive by-product of class struggle and should be dismissed.
58 Functional What role does religion serve in society? Émile Durkheim Collective Conscious: Religion serves to hinder selfish tendencies of the individual and promote social cooperation. Symbols are a manifestation of the collective conscious and, when brought up during religious rituals, help to reinforce social cooperation.Radcliffe-BrownNeed group solidarity (Religion) in order for society to surviveBronislaw MalinowskiMagic and religion as emotional and mental support
59 Emile Durkheim (1858)“A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, i.e., things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.”—Émile Durkheim
60 Durkheim, cont.The primary function of religion is to inspire respect for customs and institutions that must be respected if society is to survive.Thus, religion reinforces the unity and integrity of society.
61 EMILE DURKHEIM’S (1858-1917) FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF RELIGION RELIGIONS GENERATE SOCIAL COHESION.BELIEFS: All religious beliefs presuppose a classification of all things, real and ideal, into two opposed groups: the sacred and the profane. This distinction is the foundation of religions, not sacred spirits.The SACRED encompasses the social community.The PROFANE encompasses the personal and private.RITUALS: Rules of conduct that prescribe how people should behave in the presence of sacred things, and that reinforce social behaviors:POSITIVE: The individual renews her/his commitment to the community.NEGATIVE: Reinforces taboos to maintain communal order.PIACULAR: Performed during a crisis to repair and solidify the community.The TOTEMIC PRINCIPLE: He focused on Australian aborigines in which each clan has a sacred, totemic animal or plant. Totemism provides systems of order and classification. The totem or “god” of the clan IS the CLAN itself.THUS: For Durkheim, GOD and SOCIETY are the same:Both are superior to individualsIndividuals depend on bothAll must submit to the rules
62 EARLY 20th CENTURY ANTHROPOLOGY Bronislaw Malinowski ( ) and Franz Boas ( ) developed the method of “participant observation,” and lived among other cultures for extended periods.They were both emphatically opposed to social evolution.Anthropology becomes more grounded in cultural relativism.Anthropologists stop focusing on the origins of religions to:How religions spread through DIFFUSION, the mixing of cultural elements from one society to another through contact over time.What FUNCTIONS religions serve in society.
63 MALINOWSKI’S FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF RELIGION He set out to prove that “savages” were rational and not the “living fossils” of a social evolutionary paradigm.The Trobrianders hunted and gardened with empirically-honed skills.They turned to magic when practical knowledge had reached its limits.Religion functions in conjunction with practicality.His model focuses on how social institutions serve the biological and psychological needs of individuals.
64 RADCLIFFE-BROWN’S (1881-1955) STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM Through comparative methods, he focused on how society functions at the macro, structural level.A society’s “fixed” religious beliefs and practices (those that remain over time) maintain social order.This was a time when anthropology was attempting to validate itself as a science.Structural processes can be observed and documented with greater scientific validity then the psychologically oriented processes of Malinowski’s model of functionalism.
65 THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL USE OF THEORIES OF FUNCTIONALISM Social institutions function to support the structure of society and social needs.Society functions to become something greater than the sum total of its institutional parts.Stratification and inequity function to maintain social cohesion.CRITIQUE: Functionalism is a macro approach that focuses on the status quo, and cannot adequately theorize social conflict or change.
66 Interpretive Developed in response to the Functional Approach. Clifford GeertzThe goal of the anthropologist should be to discover meaning, not to look for origins and laws!Based on the work of Max Weber, who was the first to propose looking at culture through Emic Analysis.
67 CLIFFORD GEERTZ ( )Geertz focused on interpreting the symbols that give meaning to peoples’ lives.He asserted that anthropologists must deeply analyze and thickly describe cultures and their symbols through the interpretive model in order to make difference understandable.He argued that religions are too particularistic with regard to events, individuals, and groups to be understood through functionalist theories.
68 GEERTZ ON RELIGION AS A CULTURAL SYSTEM Geertz’s definition of culture: "a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.”Geertz’s theory of religion as a cultural system:A symbolic system, religion is a social construct that--through social interaction--creates reality, and provides people with a blueprint for how to live.Generates powerful and lasting moods and motivations in people. The moods are in and of themselves, and the motivations are directed towards goals.Infuses these moods and motivations with the sense that they are uniquely real.Provides an overall ordering for existence that gives life meaning, and provides explanations for why problems and tragedies occur.Infuses the overall explanations and ordering for existence with the sense that it is factual.Together, these dynamics seem so powerful to believers that religion becomes the only sensible explanation for reality. Belief is fortified through ritual, and then taken into the world to transform it to conform with religion.
69 POST-STRUCTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Post-structuralism emerged as a critique of structuralism, and the array of post-structural theories are numerous and eclectic.The post-structural moment occurred when it was recognized that people participate in the creation of knowledge and power, and are not mere pawns of cultural and social structural practices and processes.Post-structuralism asserts that the study of underlying structures is itself a product of culture, and therefore subject to biases and misinterpretations.To understand culture, it is necessary to study the systems of knowledge which produce culture.THREE BASIC PRINCIPLES:Meaning is always shifting.Individuals’ perceptions of meaning is always shifting.Power attempts to fix meaning, but this is impossible.
71 Basic ConceptsTheism: Belief in the existence of God(s). Includes Mono and Poly.Atheism: Belief that God(s) does not exist.Agnosticism: View that nothing can be conclusively or definitively known about the existence or non-existence of God(s).
72 Characteristics of Religion The French sociologist Emile Durkheim stated that religion involves “things that surpass the limits of our knowledge”.BeliefsIdeas, based upon faith, that people consider trueThe sacred and profaneSacred: that which has supernatural qualitiesProfane: that which is the ordinaryRitualsRoutines that reinforce the faithMoral communitiesPeople who share a religious beliefPersonal experienceGrants meaning to life
73 Sects and Cults Sects: Cults Loosely organized religious group Non professional leadershipActively rejects social environmentBreaks away from a larger religious groupDeny beliefs of othersCultsNon-conventional religious groupLargely outside a society’s cultural traditionsSocial conditions demand separationMembers required to withdraw from normal lifeFull-time communal obligation for membersMany long standing religions – Judaism, Islam, Christianity – began as cultsCharismatic leader is neededWord ‘cult’ is used by sociologists with no prejudice
74 Religion in Pre-Industrial Societies Animism- the belief that elements of the natural world are conscious life forms that affect humans.Animistic people view forests, oceans, mountains, and even wind as spiritual forces.Many Native American and African societies are animistic.Hunters and gathers might have singled out someone to be the Shaman with special religious skills, but they have no full time religious leader.
75 Among pastoral and horticultural people, there arose a belief in a single divine power responsible for creating the world.In agrarian societies, religion becomes more important, with a specialized priesthood in charge of religious organizations.
76 THE WORLD RELIGIONSReligions that are not tied to a particular culture or location. Colonialism, trade, missionaries, migration, etc., have spread world religions throughout the globe.There are many localized variations of the world religions, and vernacular or folk beliefs and practices that are closely connected to a specific culture or location.BuddhismHinduismIslamJudaismChristianity
78 Christianity World’s largest religion Three main branches Roman CatholicProtestantLuther breaks away from Roman Catholic Church in 16th centuryOrthodox ChristianDivision of Christianity in 10th centuryServes eastern Europe
79 Islam Second largest religion in world Significant beliefs and practicesOnly one god that all must recognizeDaily prayer, share wealth, pilgrimageNo centralized authorityLocal clerics rule often with close state tiesTwo major sectsSunniShiite
80 Judaism Numerically smallest of world religions Important beliefs: God’s chosen peopleTorah: first 5 books of the Bible; oldest truths from GodMajor divisionsOrthodox: strictly traditionalReform: liberal and worldlyConservative: middle ground between Orthodox and Reform
81 Hinduism Largest of the Eastern religions Important beliefs Concentrated largely in IndiaImportant beliefsDharma: special force makes daily demands and sacred obligationsKarma: spirit remains through life, death, rebirthOrganizationCaste membership
82 Buddhism Large religion throughout Asia Includes southeast Asian countries and ChinaBased upon teachings of the Buddha, the enlightened oneMonks and lay people spread his teachingsImportant beliefsTo relieve human suffering one must follow a path that ultimately leads to enlightenment“Right” thoughts and actions must be daily performed and evaluated through meditation
83 ConfucianismOriginated with Confucius attempting to solve practical problems of daily livingWisdom summarized guides management of societyJen: human sympathy that binds people in 5 basic relationshipsSovereign and subjectParent and childOlder brother and younger brotherHusband and wifeFriend and friendProper etiquette and ritual help these relationships
88 Religious Fundamentals Fundamentalism- a conservative religious doctrine that opposes intellectualism and worldly accommodation in favor of restoring traditional otherworldly religion.
89 Religious Fundamentals Fundamentalists interpret sacred texts literally.Fundamentalists insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible and other sacred texts.Fundamentalists reject religious pluralism.They maintain that their religious beliefs are true and other beliefs are not.Fundamentalists pursue the personal experience of God’s presence.Fundamentalism opposes “secular humanism.”Secular humanism is a general term that refers to our society’s tendency to look to scientific experts rather than God for guidance about how to live.Many political fundamentalists endorse conservative political goals.Fundamentalists oppose the “liberal agenda”
90 Religion and Functionalism Religion, as a major social institution, provides many important functionsCohesionReduce social isolationIncrease social solidarityReligion unites people through shared symbolism, values, and normsSocial controlAuthority over significant eventsSocial violations become moral offensesReligious ideas promote conformityPurposeReduction of anxiety regarding the unknownReligious belief offers the comforting sense that our brief lives serve some greater purpose
91 Secularization The declining influence of religion in daily life Transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions towards non-religious values and secular institutions.Combines with increasing influence of science
92 The American Religious Economy More than 1,500 separate denominations exist in the United States.22 American denominations enroll more than 1 million members each.In any given week, about 40% of Americans attend services.Some have questioned this numberAbout 63% are official members of a local congregation or parish.
93 American Denominations and Literal Faith in the Bible Percent who agree that “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word”Unitarian-Universalist7United Church of Christ12Evangelical Lutheran Church in America22Episcopal ChurchUnited Presbyterian Church25United Methodist Church31Jehovah's Witnesses51Church of Christ56Southern Baptist Convention57
94 American Denominations and Literal Faith in the Bible Percent who agree that “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word”Church of the Nazarene58Assemblies of God68United Pentecostal Church69Church of God81All Protestants43Roman Catholics20
95 Declining American Denominations Members per 1,000 U.S. PopulationDenomination19602000% ChangeChristian Church (Disciples)10.02.7–71United Church of Christ12.45.0–60Episcopal Church18.18.2–55United Methodist Church58.929.8–49Presbyterian Church (USA)23.012.7–45Evangelical Lutheran Church in America29.318.2–39Unitarian-Universalist1.00.8–20Roman Catholic233.0221.7–5
96 Some Growing American Denominations Members per 1,000 U.S. PopulationDenomination19602000% ChangeSouthern Baptist Convention53.856.3+5Church of the Nazarene1.72.2+35Seventh-day Adventist1.83.1+72Foursquare Gospel0.50.9+80Mormons8.218.2+122Jehovah’s Witnesses1.43.5+150Assemblies of God2.89.1+225Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.)+244Church of God in Christ19.5+786
97 Why are women more religious? Gender trends essentially universalWomen socialized to care for family/religious needs of familyPascal’s wager: non-belief is risky behaviorBut belief does involve costs – deny oneself… look to rewards in heavenMen engage in more risky behavior, less willing to delay gratification
98 Gender and Religiousness in Selected Nations WomenMenPercent who attend church at least monthly.United States6154Canada4432Mexico7057Great Britain3017Germany3623Italy6242Russia93Japan1611
99 Gender and Religiousness in Selected Nations WomenMenPercent who pray.United States9487Canada8875Mexico9589Great Britain7854Germany7459Italy90Russia5021Japan85China2817
100 Gender and Religiousness in Selected Nations WomenMenPercent who say they are “a religious person”United States8680Canada7765Mexico71Turkey78Great Britain47Germany6448Italy89Russia6939Japan3220