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Sociological Theories of Religion

  • Date Submitted: 06/03/2012 09:19 AM
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Sociological Theories of Religion
Evelyn Richardson
SOC101: Introduction to Sociology
Amy Reid
April 30, 2012

The three major sociological theories, functionalism, conflict and interactionism have a major impact on the social institution of religion but in different ways.   Each sociological theory concluded that religion is a part of everyday life, but is diminishing day by day.   According to each of these theories, religion may one day be extinct as the number of people who believe in a higher power decreases each generation.   The purpose of this paper is to show the impact each theory has had on religion as well as the people inside the institution itself.
Religion has been around for many hundreds of years and has had a great influence on many things in societies over time and across the world, such as politics, economics, and has even led to many wars. But how would one come about with a definition of the word religion?   There are many different definitions out there of religion that are basic and even some definitions that get more complex. One basic and easy way to describe religion is a person or group of peoples set beliefs and practices on the concept of spirituality.  
J. Milton Yinger takes one of the more complex approaches to defining religion. He calls it “a system of beliefs and practices by which a group of people struggle with the ultimate problems of human life – problems relating to human morality, suffering, and injustice; and the need to infuse human life with meaning, and intellectual coherence, and the crucial importance of upholding moral percepts and patterns of social life” (Yinger, 1980). Although both definitions seem to be drastically different, they actually do compliment each other and when used together can give us a much better understanding of religion and what it represents to the different cultures of people.
Religious institutions consist of groups of individuals who share a common view about the nature of god or a...


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