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Symbolic interactionism

Rising from the concept that our world is socially constructed, symbolic interactionism studies the symbols and interactions of everyday life. To interactionists, beliefs and experiences are not sacred unless individuals in a society regard them as sacred. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. Because interactionists study one-on-one, everyday interactions between individuals, a scholar using this approach might ask questions focused on this dynamic. The interaction between religious leaders and practitioners, the role of religion in the ordinary components of everyday life, and the ways people express religious values in social interactions—all might be topics of study to an interactionist.

Summary

Religion describes the beliefs, values, and practices related to sacred or spiritual concerns. Social theorist Émile Durkheim defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915). Max Weber believed religion could be a force for social change. Karl Marx viewed religion as a tool used by capitalist societies to perpetuate inequality. Religion is a social institution, because it includes beliefs and practices that serve the needs of society. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal, because it is found in all societies in one form or another. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide valuable ways for sociologists to understand religion.

Short answer

List some ways that you see religion having social control in the everyday world.

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What are some sacred items that you’re familiar with? Are there some objects, such as cups, candles, or clothing, that would be considered profane in normal settings but are considered sacred in special circumstances or when used in specific ways?

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Consider a religion that you are familiar with, and discuss some of its beliefs, behaviors, and norms. Discuss how these meet social needs. Then, research a religion that you don’t know much about. Explain how its beliefs, behaviors, and norms are like/unlike the other religion.

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Further research

For more discussion on the study of sociology and religion, check out the following blog: (External Link) . The Immanent Frame is a forum for the exchange of ideas about religion, secularism, and society by leading thinkers in the social sciences and humanities.

Read more about functionalist views on religion at (External Link) , symbolic interactionist view on religion at (External Link) , and women in the clergy at (External Link) .

Some would argue that the Protestant work ethic is still alive and well in the United States. Read British historian Niall Ferguson’s view at (External Link) .

References

Barkan, Steven E., and Susan Greenwood. 2003. “Religious Attendance and Subjective Well-Being among Older Americans: Evidence from the General Social Survey.” Review of Religious Research 45:116–129.

Durkheim, Émile. 1933 [1893]. Division of Labor in Society . Translated by George Simpson. New York: Free Press.

Durkheim, Émile. 1947 [1915].  The Elementary Forms of Religious Life . Translated by J. Swain. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Ellway, P. 2005. “The Rational Choice Theory of Religion: Shopping for Faith or Dropping your Faith?” Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Fasching, Darrel, and Dell deChant. 2001. Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach . Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwel.

Finke, R., and R. Stark. 1988. “Religious Economies and Sacred Canopies: Religious Mobilization in American Cities, 1906.” American Sociological Review 53:41–49.

Greeley, Andrew. 1989. “Protestant and Catholic: Is the Analogical Imagination Extinct?” American Sociological Review 54:485–502.

Hechter, M. 1997. “Sociological Rational Choice Theory.” Annual Review of Sociology 23:191–214. Retrieved January 20, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Hightower, Jim. 1975. Eat Your Heart Out: Food Profiteering in America . New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

Marx, Karl. 1973 [1844]. Contribution to Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right . Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Ritzer, George. 1993. The McDonaldization of Society . Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

Weber, Max. 2002 [1905]. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Other Writings , translated by Peter R. Baehr and Gordon C. Wells. New York: Penguin.

Questions & Answers

which distinguish between community and tribe
Shah Reply
Community is quite different from tribe....gemienschaft and gesselschaft
Mc
what is institution.... according to sociology..?
RAJES Reply
what does mean rationality according to j.habermas
Shah Reply
factors contributing to cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
What is cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
difference between urban and rural areas
Thabsile Reply
What does law in a society mean
Alisha Reply
What is socialization
Thabsile
socialization, is the behavioural process of human to adopt or acceptable in their various societies.From Moses Ebena
Hitmos
Which human being bcme social being
Lukman
I'm writing paper 2 bridging course final year so it also includes sociology plz help guys
Thabsile
Culture is a way of of people life
Lukman
ottways says that.... what in ur whole life that is cultue
Shah
law in a society mean rule of governing authority that allow and forbid the said acts.answer is for Alisha
Imtiyaz
what is social stratification plx give me answer
yasir
social stratification means social differentiation based on occupation, social status
Imtiyaz
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position
Mc
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position of social statificition
Rashmiranjan
social stratification is a kind of social diffrentation where by a society groups people into socio_ economic strata , based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status or derived power (social and Political).
Meer
plz tell me changing gender spaces in family ,work and its implications on the individual and society across culture?
Meer
I don't no
Rashmiranjan
stratification in sociology what does it mean?
salem
stratification refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy...
mulena
the difference some groups have greater status, power, and wealth than other groups....
mulena
what is society
yasir Reply
society means any geographical area where group of people share equal practice of living activities culture and other aspects
Imtiyaz
yes
Darlene
Or it is a group of persons,sharing self-sufficient system of action that is capable of lasting longer than the life span of any individual
Omar
sociology, deal on society,human social interaction with separate people and not only as individuals, for example school, churches and associations.
Hitmos
oh wow im just realizing theres a chat forum 😯
Tyrone
Yeah hi...
Max weber
Kelvine
what is the relevance of sociology
Alqaseem Reply
hi
Nath
hi
noumbisi
hello
Marc
how do u do?
noumbisi
hiiii
yasir
Hi, good evening. please can someone help me emphasized more on that religion?
Nath Reply
As sociologist we endorse anything that supports the continuity of society and harmonize the society and its elements is good... We don't really worry about the authenticity of its origin... If you have studies the sociological perspectives you will know that there are different views on religion..
look what each classical theorist have said about religion...
what is a religion
Zahid Reply
ll grade sociology ga notes h k
Sunil
Religion involve those things which surpasses the limit of our knowledge.
shoaib
religion is believe it one God
DAVE
What is Social Psychology? and why social psychology?
WILLIAM Reply
learn about the people and understand there need to live in society what there basic need and learning institutions
Ghulammurtaza
Social Psychology deals with the study of individual as part of a group or communty and how they affect each other.
Sadiq
behavior study of humans are there institutions are social psychology but if they are study about society that means the learn about there living structure
Ghulammurtaza
social psychology means it formed after combined sociology and psychology and itis new descipline.
salem
social psychology study behavior reference society
Rajesh
what is sociology?
Omeneke Reply
It's a field of study which studies about human Society... (to make you more clear... the psychology studies single individual where as sociology studies group of individual who forms society)
sociology is study of socity
Sadia
not only study but it study with scientific method and sociological approach
Rajesh
rite #rajesh sosa
Sadia
thanks
Rajesh
hey help me defining sociological guru's ideas
luther
what is culture
Nandala Reply
what is urbanisation
Nandala
What are the weaknesses of the conflict theory
Skeazo Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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