The functions of religion
DOI link for The functions of religion
The functions of religion book
The early work of Edward Burnett Tylor and Robertson Smith, among others, while engaged in answering questions concerning the origin of religion, also bore seeds of new questions. As formulated by those scholars who followed them, these questions were concerned less with the historical or psychological origins of ritual than with its role and purpose in society—in other words, ritual’s social function. Functionalists who study religion owe much to the following three writers in particular, each of whom helped to establish the modern sense of three different approaches in the human sciences: political theory, social theory, and psychological theory. Religion, for a Marxist scholar, therefore functions to reproduce the status quo by distracting attention from the actual source of conflict. The collection of narratives, actions and institutions that we call religion, for a social theorist in Durkheim’s tradition, therefore functions to build and retain a group identity that is always on the brink of breaking down.