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Sociology- Final Exam 2021 (Professor Satchwill)

Terms in this set (74)

-French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) defined religion as a "unified system of beliefs and
practices relative to sacred things" (1915). To him, sacred meant extraordinary—something that inspired wonder and that
seemed connected to the concept of "the divine."
- Durkheim argued that "religion happens" in society when there is a
separation between the profane (ordinary life) and the sacred (1915). A rock, for example, isn't sacred or profane as it
exists. But if someone makes it into a headstone, or another person uses it for landscaping, it takes on different
meanings—one sacred, one profane.
Durkheim is generally considered the first sociologist who analyzed religion in terms of its societal impact. Above all, he
believed religion is about community: It binds people together (social cohesion), promotes behavior consistency (social
control), and offers strength during life's transitions and tragedies (meaning and purpose). By applying the methods of
natural science to the study of society, Durkheim held that the source of religion and morality is the collective mind-set of
society and that the cohesive bonds of social order result from common values in a society. He contended that these values
need to be maintained to maintain social stability.
- Whereas Durkheim saw religion as a source of social stability, German sociologist and political economist Max Weber
(1864-1920) believed it was a precipitator of social change. He examined the effects of religion on economic activities
and noticed that heavily Protestant societies—such as those in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and Germany—were
the most highly developed capitalist societies and that their most successful business leaders were Protestant. In his
writing The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he contends that the Protestant work ethic influenced the
development of capitalism. Weber noted that certain kinds of Protestantism supported the pursuit of material gain by
motivating believers to work hard, be successful, and not spend their profits on frivolous things. (The modern use of
"work ethic" comes directly from Weber's Protestant ethic, although it has now lost its religious connotations.) He believed religion reflects the social stratification of society and that it maintains inequality and perpetuates the
status quo. For him, religion was just an extension of working-class (proletariat) economic suffering. He famously argued
that religion "is the opium of the people" (1844).