Assess the usefulness of functionalist theories in understanding religion today
Functionalists have put forward their perspective on religion and how it benefits both society and the individual starting with how religion brings people together harmoniously, creating social cohesion and a sense of belonging as people believe in the same thing and all abide by the same rules. Religion creates and maintains a value consensus whilst giving society social order. By conforming to religious beliefs this allows us to gain morals and therefore Functionalists see religion as a positive aspect to society.
Durkheim defines religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”. He says all societies …show more content…
Some critics may argue that the Functionalist perspective is outdated and therefore not representative of modern society. They suggest that society needs religion to function and keep social order thus without it society would break down. Although secularisation of religion appears to be occurring society is still functioning.
It could also be argued that religion can create conflict and division amongst society, for example there have been several world conflicts due to religious beliefs which highlights that religion does not create social solidarity as the functionalists suggest.
Marxists however criticise the functionalist view as they argue religion is a unifying source that strengthens the value consensus and is a feature of all society. They see religion as a feature only of class-divided society. In such a society, there is always the potential for class conflict, and Marx predicted that the working