What is the Functionalist Perspective on Religion?
Part 2: Psychological Functions
This A-Level Sociology video explores the Functionalist perspective on religion with a focus on key sociologists such as Bellah, Parsons, Malinski. There is also an extensive summary and evaluation of Functionalist sociologists at the end of the video.
Snippet from the video:
Robert Bellah is aligned with Parsons’ interest in how religion creates unity in society; particularly contemporary society with many different faiths as in America. The unifying feature in America is civil religion which is a system that attaches sacred features to society itself. Essentially in is “the American way of life’ that binds society more so than an individual religion. It can combine the loyalty from all Americans, while individual denominations cannot.
The American civil religion creates loyalty to the nation-state and belief in God which are both representative of being a “true American.” This is expressed through rituals, symbols and beliefs such as the pledge of allegiance to the flag, singing the national anthem, viewing the Lincoln Memorial in awe and expressing sentiments such as “One nation under God.”
God is represented more as American than of any singular faith thus sacralising America’s way of life which binds individuals together from various religious backgrounds.
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