Sociology Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 3 - Question 5
90 Days Sociology Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 30-Nov-2018
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30-Nov-2018 - Question 1
Give an assessment of Durkheimian notion of ‘scared’ and ‘profane’ in sociology of religion.(2017)(150 words)
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Durkheim defined ‘Religion’ as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite in one simple moral community called a church, all those who adhere to it.
His explanation of the religion is based on the ideas of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. The sacred refers to the things humans have set apart, including religious beliefs, rites or anything socially defined as requiring special treatment. There is collective consciousness associated with the idea of sacredness. To strengthen the collective beliefs, collective rituals are performed. The profane is the reverse of the sacred. What is not sacred is profane.
Durkheim considered ‘Totemism’ to be the most primitive form of religion. ’Totem’ is considered sacred by the people of clan. It is a symbolic form of ancestors. The members of the clan pay respect to it. Thus, in the name of religion, people worship whole society. Worshipper gets huge amount of strength and sense of power by worshipping totem. In the modern society as well , national flag, national anthem etc. emerged as new totems to which nation as a whole pay respect. In essense , collective rituals associated with sacred things create solidarity in society.
However, the ideas of ‘sacred & profane’ have been criticised by various scholars. Edmond Leach stated that it is not a proper classification. It is very difficult to differentiate between what constitutes sacred what don’t. Alexander Golden Weiser has also criticized Durkheim on similar lines.
However, Durkheim was not concerned only about such classification. He just talked about the concept of sacred & profane to explain about the most primitive form of religion.