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Functionalist & Materialistic Perspective

When comparing the functionalist and materialistic perspectives, is the Durkheim and the functionalist always a promoter of religion, or does he also out to deconstruct it? Which theoretical framework is more amicable to religion? Explain your reasoning.

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1. When comparing the functionalist and materialistic perspectives, is the Durkheim and the functionalist always a promoter of religion, or does he also out to deconstruct it?.

What is functionalism?

Generally, functionalism is the analysis of social and cultural phenomena in terms of the functions they perform in a sociocultural system. In functionalism, society is conceived of as a system of interrelated parts in which no part can be understood in isolation from the whole. A change in any part is seen as leading to a certain degree of imbalance, which in turn results in changes in other parts of the system and to some extent to a reorganization of the system as a whole. The development of functionalism was based on the model of the organic system found in the biological sciences (Theodorson & Theodorson 1969:167, as cited in http://www.sociology.ohio-state.edu/classes/Soc488/Sowash/Lecture%203%20Functionalism%20Durkheim%20Overheads.pdf).

In relation to the sociology of religion, the question is to which social conditions are fundamental and determinant for individuals and society. The materialistic view (Max Weber) argues that religion in itself could determine the economic development in a historical context (Inger & Repstad, 2006). In other words, that is the function of religion or at least one of them. Another meaning of materialism in sociology is drawn from popular moral or political that religion provides to which materialism refers to a prevailing pattern of desire for mere sensory enjoyments, material possessions or physical comfort, at the expense of any higher moral or spiritual values or concerns (Materialism). In other words, religion meets this need for comfort and enjoyment. This promotes religion ONLY to this 'materialistic' end. For me, this seems to reconstruct religion taking out the spiritual or higher purpose and is therefore reductionism.

For Durkheim, the foundation of all religion lies in the sacred significance 'the structure of kinship' holds for primordial man, and any scientific study of religion must concern itself with such structures as molecular cults, and with the positive and negative rites of the cult. Durkheim argues that religious categories are evolutionary products of the individuals' long exposure to the constraints of the sacred in social context (Durkheim, et all, 1976). I seems, at least from a religious perspective, that Durkheim deconstructs the meaning of religion, in part because he moved from being Catholic to being agnostic whose theory is reflected in his proposed societal (as opposed to spiritual function) function of religion. ...

Solution Summary

When comparing the functionalist and materialistic perspectives, this solution debates if Durkheim and the functionalists are always a promoter of religion, or if he is also out to deconstruct it. A discussion then follows about which theoretical framework is more amicable to religion, including evidence for this decision.

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