Religion and Functional Definitions
Identify and Briefly Explain One Advantage and Two Disadvantages of Functional Definitions of Religion (9 Marks) * Functional definitions of religion defines religion in terms of the social or psychological functions it performs for individuals or society. * An advantage of functional definitions of religion is that they are inclusive. This means that it allows us to include a wide range of beliefs and practices that perform functions such as integration.
* This is supported by Emile Durkheim (1915) as he defines religion as the contribution it makes to social integration, rather than any specific belief in God or the supernatural. One disadvantage of functional definitions of religion is that it is not exclusive. Which means that it doesn’t show the difference between religious and non-religious beliefs.
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* This is supported by Max Weber (1905) who explains religion through substantive definitions, he defines religion as a belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically. If you want to use this rephrase to explain the point better.
Another disadvantage of functional definitions of religion is the fact that just because an institution helps integrate individuals into groups, this does not make it a religion. For example chanting for you team within a sport along with other supporters might give you a sense of integration but that doesn’t mean that it is a religion. * This is supported by Malinowski (1954), although Malinowski agrees that religion brings solidarity he believes this happens by performing psychological functions for the individual rather than making them just feel integrated. Can use this if you want but you don’t need it.