The sociology of religion is the study of how different sets of people in religious groups interact and how their behavior is influenced by these interactions. People’s religious practices, norms and behavior are influenced by interactions they have with each other in their religious groups.
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Religion is a collective set of beliefs and practices with a spiritual foundation meant to influence people’s perceptions and behaviors. People who share similar religious ideals have collective behavior which identifies them as followers of that specific religious group. They have strong ties to fellow devotees in their religious groups.
These beliefs strengthen people’s adherence to religious doctrines which define the essence of a religion. Followers of a religious group have common ways of interaction which bind them together. They are required to perform specific roles which determine their status and power in their religious groups. They have faith in religious teachings which are strongly emphasized as sacred.
Religions has a set of beliefs and practices which all members need to adhere to. Followers of different religions have to be familiar with sacred texts which spell out beliefs and their relevance. They need to satisfy various expectations by performing religious rituals and other activities which have a lot of spiritual symbolism. Members of a particular religious group are socialized to treasure various moral codes of conduct in their lives.
By fulfilling moral objectives, members satisfy important tenets of their religion. The sacred aspects of religion make people interpret extra ordinary experiences differently. Any extra ordinary event is associated with a revered form of supernatural power or deity.They believe that a supernatural power guides their lives and as such, they need to reciprocate by devoting by their lives to the religious order they believe in.
Religious sociology is important because it helps people understand the value of religion in their lives. This makes one understand the essence of religion and how it shapes human character, identity and personality. People devote their thoughts and emotions to their religion for various reasons. Therefore, this helps one understand how religion binds members of a particular society to enable them have collective practices and beliefs.
People are able to understand the relationship they have with their religion and how this contributes to their existence. They are able to look at various rituals, practices and teachings rationally. This helps them understand how these religious tenets build their faith. The sociology of religion makes one to look critically at religious rituals which bind him or her with other devotees. The devotee is able to understand how these interactions shape their personality and behavior.
This subject helps a person understand the moral implications he needs to satisfy as stipulated by his or her religion. Therefore, this models an individual’s behavior to conform to acceptable societal norms and standards of behavior. Religious affiliation makes people more aware of their identity and the roles they are supposed to play within a given society.
Interactions people have with each other in a particular religious group gives them a sense of belonging and identity. General beliefs which bind people within various religious groups help them focus on life and what they seek to achieve out of it. Sacred texts enable believers interpret the teachings contained therein and apply them in their own lives. Sacred texts reassure people to be more righteous in what they do to reduce their pre-occupation with material objects.
The Rational Choice Theory argues that people are motivated by their own self interests before they choose to perform certain actions. Therefore, natural human behavior inclines people to engage in activities which have material or psychological benefits. The theory argues that people who choose to observe religious doctrines are motivated by their own individual needs. They expect to benefit from their devotion to religion by improvements in their personal welfare.
This theory argues that people are rational beings who only engage in an action after assessing benefits they stand to gain. Individual human actions determine how people in a group interact with each other. Different life experiences shape human behavior and they impact on choices people make. Therefore, people make personal religious decisions based on their past experiences after assessing how these choices will work for them.
This theory asserts that people opt for religious choices which give them personal satisfaction. They evaluate results they intend to achieve and come up with ways to attain them. The theory argues that human behavior is planned and this makes every individual calculate rewards and losses likely to be experienced before engaging in a particular action. People prefer to engage in actions that are naturally rewarding over those that punish them.
Therefore, they are willing to devote themselves to religion to gain protection, consolation and future promises of personal prosperity. Human consciousness drives them into religion to gain recognition, status, social connections and money. This is made possible by interactions they have with other devotees who have similar aspirations. Therefore, by being active in religion, devotees achieve their own personal interests.