Asses the Functionalist View That Religion Benfits Both Society as a Whole and Its Individual Members.

Essay: - ‘Asses the Functionalist view that religion benefits both society as a whole and its                     individual members’.

Functionalists believe that society is a system of interrelated parts or social institutions, such as religion the family and the economy. According to them society functions because of the existence of value consensus which is a set of shared norms and values by which society’s members live.    
Functionalist is a consensus perspective that sees religion performing positive functions for society and individuals. However, Marxism and Feminism are conflict perspectives that highlight the ideological function of religion. Marxists see religion as exploiting the working class and creating false consciousness. Feminists see religion as an instrument of patriarchy.
For Durkheim religion provides a distinction between the sacred and the profane. Furthermore, religion is more than just simply a set of beliefs, it also involves rituals in relation to the sacred. These sacred things evoke such powerful feelings which lead Durkheim to believe that something this powerful can only be society itself.
Malinowski agrees with Durkheim that religion promotes solidarity, however in his view it does so by performing psychological functions for individuals. Malinowski indentifies two ways in which religion performs a role. These are; when the outcome is important but is uncontrollable and uncertain, and secondly at times of life crises.
Like Malinowski, Talcott Parsons sees religion helping individuals to cope with unforeseen events and uncontrollable outcomes. However, he puts forwards two essential functions performs in modern society. Thus includes creating and legitimising societies central values and making of the primary source of meaning.
In Marx’s view religion operates as a ideological weapon used by the ruling-class to legitimate the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and God-given. Religion misleads the poor into...