Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Functionalist View That Religion Benefits Both Society as a Whole and Its Individual Members (18 Marks)"
Many functionalists argue that religion benefits both society as a whole as well as its individual members however other sociologists may oppose this view and claim that those who do actually benefit from religion this is at the expense of others, this in itself contradicts many of the beliefs set out in religions themselves.
The consensus view as posed by functionalists presents religion in a far more positive light in comparison to that put forward by Marxists and feminists for example. As in Item A, stating that religion integrates individuals into a community by instilling into them a set of shared beliefs that gives them a feeling of belonging and common identity supporting the view that religion does benefit society as a whole. On the other hand it can be viewed that those who benefit from ...view middle of the document...
All religions vary therefore to generalise all of the religions amongst many different societies and cultures can become increasingly difficult. However many sociologists have posed their own generalised views and opinions with regards to religion and the effect it has on society, some more positive than others. Keeping this idea of generalisation in mind, it can be difficult to reach a definite conclusion, nevertheless it can be explored.
One way in which religion may be considered to benefit society would be the psychological function that it holds in that those who are in times of need will turn to their religion for guidance and help. Religion may help with emotional stress that would undermine social solidarity. For example the poor were made to believe that their suffering is virtuous and that they would be favoured in the afterlife. So from their point of view, which is also mirrored by the functionalist perspective, this helped those who were poor with dealing with the fact they were so unfortunately poor in that they believed the next life would be better for them.
On the other hand from a Marxist perspective they would argue that this actually distorts people’s perception of reality in ways that serve the interests of the ruling class. Marx argued that religion operates as an ideological weapon used by the ruling class to legitimate the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and God-given.
Therefore to conclude as to whether religion does actually benefit both society as a whole as well as its individual members it can be difficult due to the great variation of religions that exist and their own specific attitudes and values. However on the whole there are many different perspectives surrounding the matter and whether or not religion benefits society or whether it only benefits the ruling class at the expense of others. There are many conflicting views about the subject of religion all of which have their own beliefs and arguments however no definite conclusion can be made generally as its is such a broad subject with different religions and cultures involved that need to be taken into consideration.