Durkheims definition of Religion Application to Political Movements - Essay Example

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With his last major work, The Elementary Forms of Social Life, Durkheim sought out to explain that religion was founded by society as an apparatus to construct norms and morals. …
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Durkheims definition of Religion Application to Political Movements
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Download file to see previous pages This book received great accolade because Durkheim utilized a case study of the Australian aborigines, stating that they represented the most elementary form of religion within a society or culture. According to Durkheim, religious representations such as sacred rituals come into existence when groups of people come together and such rites or rituals are aimed at bringing people into a certain state of mentality while keeping them excited. Thus, in essence, religion gave people within a society a form of identification and mark of togetherness (Allen et al, 2012, p.2). His theory on religion was founded on the fact that sociology can be explained using natural sciences as it is a scientific study and in turn it can be proven using an experiment, in this case the case study. However, science is proven using scientific facts; the same cannot be said for religion, as it would be difficult to establish any religious facts. This was the main challenge facing Durkheim as he embarked on explaining religion (Orru and Wang 1999, p.47). Criticism of his work stemmed from the fact that his case study featured ‘primitive peoples’, whose mode of thinking cannot be equivalent to western or rational thinkers of modern times. This was overlooked, nonetheless, because of the imaginative and insightful ideas that he was able to bring to light. It has been demonstrated that there is difficulty or it is of no significance to attempt to prove that religion can indeed be studied as a science; more so, that sacred rituals are a universal concept (Allen et al, 2012, p.6). Political Movements Commonly referred to as political sociology, the study of politics suggests that political parties function in the same way as religious sects. Followers in both cases exhibit the same kind of loyalty where leaders and/or fellow followers are justified or excused for any villainous crimes committed. Another theory explored suggests that even though political parties employ rituals and symbols as modes of self-representation, they are not similar to religious phenomenon. However, they need to be explained as demagogic means needed to preserve and reaffirm the authenticity of power among masses of people. This is referred to as the crowd manipulation interpretation, where the irrational aspects of belief and faith are used in an attempt to determine the impact of politics on the masses. For this reason, politics is termed as secular religion as a system of rituals and symbols are employed and this create an atmosphere of sacredness that, in turn, brings out politics as an object of worship and devotion (Jones, n.d). Following Durkheim’s argument, in order to understand fully religion we must go back in time and analyse religious phenomena historically. This explains why he selected the Australian aborigines as his case study; that however primitive they might have been, it would be significant to discover their constituent and how they gave rise to the modern religions. This is done by comparing constituent elements from both cases. Durkheim insists, nevertheless, that this analysis involving both historical and ethnographic observations is not a conceptual possibility but rather a concrete reality. Notably also, he explained his choice of the Australian aborigines, a pre-modern group stating that it was scientific because there needs to be a foundation for every concept to be rightly explained. This was in contradiction to scholars who use history as a means of bringing into disrepute their modern counterparts (Rosati 2009, p.13). This implies that religion or any ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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