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Functionalists are concerned with the contribution religion makes to meeting society’s needs – social solidarity, value consensus, harmony and integration.

Durkheim – 5 functions of religion; Totemism.

Parsons – value consensus; integration.

Malinowski – deals with emotional stress; order.

Social integration –when the system binds its members together.

Value consensus –shared NBVs within a group.

Differentiation – religion has become specialised.

Social solidarity – shared feelings of identification within a group.

Social order – actions which people display in their social lives.

Civil religion – secular symbols promoting solidarity, e.g. flags.

Anomie – sense of normlessness in society.

View on secularisation.

Functionalists believe that as religion has lost functions to other institutions, it has become specialised.


Religion is an illusion which eases pain produced by exploitation and oppression. It is a series of myths that justify the control of the proletariat.

Marx – ISA so reflects ruling class, distinguishing true nature of oppression: hierarchy is God-given; religion offers escape to heaven as a reward.

ISA- transmits ruling class ideology to maintain capitalism.

Social inequalities – when individuals do not have equal social status.

Opium of the people – Marx said religion acts life a drug, dulling the pain of oppression.

False class consciousness – when the working class are not aware of their exploitation.

View on secularisation.

Marx thought religion would come to an end with the advent of communism.


Similarly to Marxists religion can be an instrument of domination: patriarchy. Some feminists do argue however that it can be used to liberate women.

De Beauvoir – second sex.

El Saadawi – blames patriarchal society.

Holm – in theory equal, in practice not equal.

Watson – positive aspects of the hijab.

Patriarchy –...