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The Function of Religion: Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx Essay

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Updated: Sep 18th, 2022

The function of religion is, in my opinion, closely related to people’s need to have a major set of moral guidelines, making individuals more confident and satisfied and societies more viable. Therefore, it is difficult for me to choose the most persuasive perspective when it comes to Freud’s and Durkheim’s positions.

Nevertheless, I would rank Sigmund Freud first with his ideas about religion as a person’s attempt to come to terms with oneself and live in a world full of challenges. Freud believed that people chose to believe in God in order to absolve their own flaws and misfortunes, as well as wrongdoings (Ramp, 2016). I would also add that this perspective explains the function of religion on the micro-level. Many people do need to believe in the divine to get relieved of responsibility for their actions. I place Freud at the top of the list as I believe that people choose religions on this micro-level that further impact their functioning in society.

Durkheim’s position is second on the list as it concentrates on the macrolevel, which is, to my mind, determined by the human psyche. Clearly, it is much more convincing than Marx’s approach, which focused on conflict. Durkheim saw the function of religions as a glue uniting people, making them collaborate and build a strong society (Ramp, 2016). I also believe that rules, standards, and patterns are based on a specific religion in every society. These standards are consistent with the values and major goals of each country.

Karl Marx is the least persuasive with his focus on religion as a tool to oppress the oppressed. Marx’s perspective does not explain why the suppressed people embrace the values of the ruling elites. It would be logical to assume that underprivileged groups would try to create their own religion to get access to resources, which has quite a few if any, illustrations in the history of humanity.

Reference

Ramp, W. (2016). Durkheim and after: Religion, culture, and politics. In B. S. Turner (Eds.), The New Blackwell companion to the sociology of religion (pp. 52-75). John Wiley & Sons.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Function of Religion: Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx." September 18, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-function-of-religion-sigmund-freud-emile-durkheim-karl-marx/.

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