We will write a custom Essay on Sociology of Religion: Emile Durkheim’s Perspective specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist with an educational background in anthropology; Durkheim acquired his education in France and Germany, where he spent most of his time (Johnstone, 2007). He developed an interest in sociology and studied religion from a scientific approach; it is Durkheim’s ideas on the origin of religion that I find most relevant and which I am therefore going to discuss in this paper. According to Durkheim, religion is a belief system with specific practices directed towards a supernatural being such as a god and includes all the rituals performed by believers of a given system (Christiano, Swatos and Kivisto, 2002).
Durkheim explains that religion developed as people tried to seek an explanation about nature, and since people could not get answers, the assumption was that there existed a power that was far above human explanation, which they concluded to be a god (Johnstone, 2007). To society, religion is not just a set of rules, but it forms the foundation of moral guidelines and is what holds the society together (Johnstone, 2007). For instance, societies with strong religious ties are less aggressive, have lower suicide rates, and high moral standards. In fact, Durkheim used the case of Catholics and Protestants to show how Catholics have lower rates of suicide compared to Protestants because of their strong religious ties (Davie, 2007).
Additionally, the system of beliefs and practices of different religions unite its members into one body; Emile Durkheim believes that religion comes from different cultural practices in society (Johnstone, 2007). Such cultural practices in religion connect believers to God and to each other; religion involves feelings that help to build commitment, connect members of the same religion, and enable them to overcome difficult situations together (Davie, 2007).
Religion, therefore, helps human beings understand things that they cannot be able to explain and enables them to understand concepts such as seasons, the reason for our existence, and the nature of the human soul. It is a religion which provides guidance on daily activities and explains things that humans seek answers to no avail including natural phenomenon such as death and suffering. Emile Durkheim argues that there is no false religion since all religions unite members of a community together, leading to cohesiveness (Christiano et al., 2002). Thus, religion enables people to unite, brings the society together, and allows the meaningful relationship between different people; Durkheim further argues that religion enables a society to socialize its members to a moral system passed down across generations (Davie, 2007).
Durkheim’s explanation of religion is not biased to any of the existing religions in the world today since his models are objective; indeed, there exists no superior or inferior religion according to him. From Durkheim’s theory, we are able to understand that society did not develop from religion, but religion originated from the society; the society needs religion to create order and harmony within its members (Johnstone, 2007).
Generally, it is found that community member’s focus on their beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols that they use to create meaning in relation to their day-to-day life and I believe that religion has helped to create solidarity among members that helps in not only answering questions about supernatural events but also in dealing with contemporary issues of life. For instance, in a church, persons are able to create long term connections that enable members to feel emotionally connected to each other, which enables them to support each other in need or in cases of grief as well as celebrate happy moments in life. In fact, communities that are termed as primitive also have certain beliefs, cultural practices, and symbols that unite their society (Christiano et al., 2002).
Christiano, J. Swatos, W., & Kivisto, P. (2002). Sociology of religion: Contemporary Developments. Maryland: Rowman Altamira. Web.
Davie, G. (2007). The sociology of religion. New York: Sage. Web.
Johnstone, R. (2007). Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion, 8th end. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Web.