Sociology A2

1. Identify and explain three functions of religion, of a belief system.
One function is to bring social solidarity. This function serves to bring society together as a community and brings an equal standpoint where all other factors are ‘out the window’, be it class, age or gender, and everyone comes together under religion.
Another function of religion could be to act as a source of knowledge. This meaning that individuals or groups look to religion for the answers rather than a scientist point of view and so they believe in what is told to them by their specific holy book, such as the Qur’an for Muslims.
The third and final function is to act as comfort. This mainly applies to that of working and some middle class individuals who may feel oppressed by their position in the hierarchical structure and look for religion as comfort that this oppression will one day be rewarded, whether that be through re-incarnation or the popular choice of good deeds means going to heaven.
  2. Identify and explain some of the ways in which sociological studies of belief differs from that of philosophy.
One way in which it differs is that philosophy supports religious ideas whilst sociology covers a wide range of views. For example, philosophers are more inclined to believe and try to prove the existence of God whilst different sociologists reject the idea altogether and say there is a particular reason for each of these belief systems such as bringing society together through such things as totems, or Marxists and there concept of ‘religion is the opium of the people’.
Another way in which they differ is that sociology looks at the belief systems effects on other institutions. For example, they look at how things that are taught in religion can affect society as a whole, such as accepting being oppressed to be rewarded in the afterlife which ultimately benefits the capitalists. Another example is the feminist view that certain belief systems are there to oppress women and...