Question

1) Please answer this question: What are the basic differences between functional and conflict theories of society? What are the weaknesses of each and in what ways is religion functional for individuals and societies?

2) Please provide responses to the below discussions:

a) Functional theories speak to the “what can religion can do for me?” question. These theories provide explanation of placement and belonging when we become a part of a religious society. They illustrate that religious values and morals are part of what helps us achieve harmony with society and with God. Structure is provided and gives basis for a strong community and organization.Our religions can spark anxiety and fear to insure the right path (in their own perspective) to eternal life is achieved, and to obtain order.
In conflict theories, change, persuasion, and the interest of certain individuals or certain groups are involved. Self- interest prevails and the majority doesn’t benefit from the change. New elites bring in suggestions for products and services at meetings, in order to build their businesses through church funds. However, there are some cases when change is good. The Black Lives Matter movement helps us divide right from wrong, encouraging right. It’s a conflict if you disagree with the movement.

b) Macro Perspective of Religion
Functional theory exists mainly to satisfy basic needs within individuals and society because without, it will be chaos and conflict. Basic needs come in many different forms such as the physical, emotional, need to Religion and the need of belonging. Instructions and patterns are in place to satisfy these need. Conflict theories: Marx believes modern society is a conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots” and the “haves try to maintain their status over the have nots in society. He stated, “that values and beliefs basically operate to justify the self interest of various groups.” In some instances, conflict can be used as a source of change. Conflict can bring on disruption and disruption can be used to resolve conflict and unite communities. Conflict helps us to look at what we truly are fighting against and oddly enough, can bring unity more than division back into communities. Some weaknesses in the Conflict Theory are: 1) they can be seen as being insensitive to human and society needs and 2) they view behavior as motivated by self-interest which can be pervasive and can influence behavior and attitudes. Some weaknesses in Functional Theory are: 1) they can become too focused on fixing individual and society’s needs, 2) structural functional often evaluated social functions as being primary, while seeing individual dysfunctions as necessary evils and 3) by over emphasizing the critical needs religion fulfill, they make religion look indispensable. Religion exists in every culture of the universe. It can be the glue that brings individuals and communities together. It allows individuals who have functional needs to believe there is a power greater than we see or of our own. But there are others, such as Durkheim, who believes the belief in God to be a metaphor of society; that religion is structional. Some Conflict Theorist believes religion is what integrates and stabilizes society. Some believe its just a way of pacifying the an individual’s need. Religious practices which may be good for an individual could be harmful for a society as a whole.

c) Functional theory looks at social patterns that meet basic human needs. The primary need observed in this theory is society's need for stability and harmony. Conflict theory looks at beliefs and values that operate to justify the self interest of various groups. The main weakness of functionalism is it tends to err on the side of social stability and cohesion. Functionalism also evolves into social philosophy rather than operating as a tool for imperial research. The main weakness of conflict theory is that it sees all behavior as motivated by self-interest. Conflict theory only sees social stress, power plays and disharmony. Religion is functional for individuals in that it provides meaning, purpose and identity for individuals. For societies, religion helps with social cohesion and harmony in society.

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1) Functionalist Theory as it relates to religion asserts that the underpinnings of society are collectively organized to create the “social cement’ and the “moral glue” necessary to create social consensus and cohesion in a given society. Additionally, Durkheim insist that it is not God as an entity that drives religions as it is the concept of the “sacred”, which promotes a universal commitment to do what is right for the good of our global community at large. Hence religion plays a very important function in creating social solidarity, consensus, integration, harmony and cohesion. In essence it is what keeps our world at large from experiencing anomie, which has the propensity to cause global chaos and disorder. Conflict Theory on the other hand asserts that religion is utilized to stratify a given society and the religion of the “powers that be” in a given society determines and/or modifies the social position and/or status of the given individual or group of record. Functionalist Theory as it relates to religion is often criticized for being far too simplified, however many of the universal tenets can be easily confirmed from religion to religion. This id the reality that gives the sociological framework its credence. Conflict Theory is often criticized as being out dated and social change and cohesion universally has modified the impact of the theory in many society as many societies have made marked efforts to emerge as more democratic entities. This does not disprove the theory, however the negative impact of conflict theory internationally has be drastically diminished and/or augmented in comparison to the works of conflict theory in the past....

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