Thursday, February 5, 2009

Durkheim's and Marx's concept on Religion

Durkheim’s ideas of religion help to clarify its formation, but his ideas are incomplete because he does not consider how and why religions, after their formation, have been used and perpetuated. Although Durkheim’s gives a fair explanation of the formation of the sacred and in consequence the formation of religion, he is not taking into account Marx’s idea of religion as a domination tool. Furthermore, he considers that religion and society are linked tightly to one another, “If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of the religion” (Appelrouth & Edles 138). Thus, he is establishing a strong link between both religion and society. Durkheim’s concept of religion implies a power that is generated almost inherently from the collective experience. Those ideas are remarkably explicit when he explains the connection between rituals, symbols, and the sacred, “Rituals create high levels of emotional energy that come to be invested in symbols; such symbols are then seen as sacred, regardless of the meaning of the truth-value of the beliefs associated with the symbol” (Allan 85). In Durkheim’s theory, religion occurs as the natural outcome of living in community. He is emphasizing the idea that religions are formed from the people that join in a collective. Durkheim’s theory is naïve since is not taking into account the role that elites’ interests play in the support of certain religious pursues. Is religion a natural product of society or it is a tool of oppression?

Allan, Kenneth. The Social Lens: An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory. California: Sage Publications, 2007.

Appelrouth Scott & Edles Laura. Clasical and Contemporary Sociological Theory. California: Pine Forge Press, 2008.

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