Introduction to Sociological Views on Religion

What you’ll learn to do: identify and explain how major sociological perspectives view religion

A woman with a head covering is in the middle of the photo holding a cup. There is a cross and a depiction of Jesus Christ out of focus in the background.

Figure 1. A woman administers communion, a religious ceremony, dispensing wine and bread to a line of congregants. (Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos/Wikimedia Commons)

Religion describes the beliefs, values, and practices related to sacred or spiritual concerns. It is a social institution, because it serves societal needs, including a sense of community. Religion is also an example of a cultural universal, because it is found in all societies in one form or another. Functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism all provide valuable ways for sociologists to understand religion.


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