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Education and Religion
 Serves political and economic needs
 Most important part-individualism
 Three main theories:
• The functionalist theory
• The conflict theory
• The symbolic interactionist theory
The functionalist theory
 Focuses on the ways that universal education serves
needs of society.
 See education in its manifest role: conveying basic
knowledge and skills to the next generation.
 Durkheim (founder) indentified the latent role of
education as one of socializing people into society’s
 “moral education” helped to form a more –cohesive
social structure – bringing people from different
countries together
The conflict theory
 Sees purpose of education as mainstreaming social
inequality and preserving the power of those who
dominate society
 Perpetuating the status quo by dulling the lower
classes into being obedient workers.
 Practices sorting but disagree about how it enacts
that sorting
 Schools train those in the working classes to accept
their position as a lower-class member of society”hidden curriculum”
The symbolic interactionist theory
 Limit their analysis to what they directly observe
happening in the classroom
 Focus on how teacher expectations influence student
performance, perceptions and attitudes
Religion is a social institution that answers
questions and explains the seemingly inexplicable.
Religions based on the belief of a single deity are
monotheistic. Those that have many deities are
Uniting Traditions
When families attend religious services or put up
decorations in honor of a holiday, they are teaching
their children about their religion and how to
observe it. By engaging in these activities and
traditions, children are united with others of the
same religion around the world. In this way, families
teach their own culture as well as the culture of the
society at large.
Major World Religions
 Christianity: derived from Judaism. It is based on the
belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and the
redeemer of mankind. There are many different Christian
 Islam: Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims
believe that the true word of God was revealed to the
prophet Muhammad. God in Islam is said to be the same
god as the Christian and Judaic deity.
 Judaism: Judaism is a monotheistic religion that predates
Christianity, built on the belief that they are the “chosen
people” of God.
Major World Religions (Continued)
 Hinduism: Hindus believe in many Gods
(Polytheistic). Karma is the main principle of their
beliefs. They believe in reincarnation and that the
good and bad you do determine what you
reincarnate into.
 Buddhism: Buddhism, like Hinduism, does not
feature any single all-powerful deity but teaches how
one can achieve enlightenment.
Types of Religious Groups
 Sociologists group religious organizations into three
categories: church, sect, and cult.
 A church is a religious group integrated with
 A sect is a religious group that sets itself apart from
society as a whole.
 A cult is a religious group that is outside standard
cultural norms, typically centered around a
charismatic leader.
Religion in the US
 In the United States, the degree to which people are
religious is related to their social class, race, and
 The United States was built upon the beliefs of
religion (Christianity)
Sociological Theories of Religion
 Each major sociological framework has its
perspective on religion…
Karl Marx Theory
 Karl Marx focused on the conflict and oppression
that religion provided to societies.
 An example of this can be seen in the lines "God
made them high and lowly and ordered their
estate". This clearly shows from a Marxist
perspective how religion is used to justify social
inequality. Marx see's religion as a tool used by the
ruling classes to control the working classes
Functionalist Perspective
 Religion is an integrative force in society because it
has the power to shape collective beliefs. It provides
cohesion in the social order by promoting a sense of
belonging and collective consciousness. This view
was supported by Emile Durkheim
Symbolic Interaction Theory
 Focuses on the process by which people become
religious. Different religious beliefs and practices
emerge in different social and historical contexts.
 Symbolic interaction theory helps explain how the
same religion can be interpreted differently by
different groups or in different times throughout
history. From this perspective, religious texts are
not truths, but have been interpreted by people.
Thus different people or groups may interpret the
same Bible in different ways.
 Fundamentalism is strict adherence to any set of
basic ideas or principles
 Example: Christian fundamentalists believe that
every word in the bible is true; word for word.
Fundamentalism and conflicts
 The belief of fundamentalism can create many
conflicts among different sects in a religion.
 can sometimes lead to theocracy in a society, which
in turn creates a divide between the non-religious
and religious citizens
 Ex: Sharia Law.