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A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may stand for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. Both functionalists and structuralist, in their own ways, have tried to interpret the communicative role of symbols in religion. The evolutionist implied a division between symbolic structures of myths and rituals and concrete structures (kinship, politics and economics etc.). Even Durkheim resorted to this artificial division between religion (a symbolic structure) and society (a concrete structure). The functionalists, on the other hand, asked the question: what rituals as observed via symbolism do for the society? Rituals are those formal actions which are expressed through symbol. The functionalists studied the process of transactions or regular patterns of interaction and explained them in terms of what a particular transaction or interaction did for a group of people. For example, according to Fifth (1973:77), political symbols can be used as instruments of public control. Firth (1973) argues that a person or a party can control the mobilization efficacy of symbols arises mainly because system of symbols are not always consistent and coherent. It is the arbitration of association with meaning which makes symbols manipulable. Precisely due to this symbols become instruments of power struggle. For the functionalist however the important fact is how a symbol or a 'set' of symbols relate to the totality of the symbolizing complex of ideas. The shift from function of meaning of religion took into account communicative aspect of human actions. Every action is a communicative action. This position has now led us to a consideration of religious as a set of symbols which throws light on the communicative dimension of an action as well as the capacity of human beings to create culture through symbols. We find that the structuralists suggest interesting possibilities in the interpretation of religion. They all fasten on to the communicative aspect of such structuralists as Levi- Strauss and, to a lesser extent. Leach emphasis the mentalist (intellectualist) aspect and strive towards a natural science model in the interpretation of religious symbols. Finding it hard to sustain, Evans-Pritchard and others developed an approach are the symbolic analyses of Mary Douglas, Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz. It is a well established notion that religion views human behavior in terms of cosmic order and reflects that cosmic order in human actions. Geertz (1966) argued that in empirical terms not many tried to inquire as to how this is actually achieved. In sociology we have very good theoretical framework to analyze socialization process of child, succession to political power, economic processes of production, distribution and consumption, etc. but for a long time little progress was made in the field of religion. It was the study of religion as a system of symbols that provided a break through. This discussion will be followed by a more detailed examination of the symbolic analyses of Douglas, Turner and Geertz.
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Essay on the term 'Symbols'
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Essay On The Term 'Symbols'

Words: 523    Pages: 2    Paragraphs: 8    Sentences: 31    Read Time: 01:54
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              A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may stand for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.
             
              Both functionalists and structuralist, in their own ways, have tried to interpret the communicative role of symbols in religion. The evolutionist implied a division between symbolic structures of myths and rituals and concrete structures (kinship, politics and economics etc. ). Even Durkheim resorted to this artificial division between religion (a symbolic structure) and society (a concrete structure).
             
              The functionalists, on the other hand, asked the question: what rituals as observed via symbolism do for the society? Rituals are those formal actions which are expressed through symbol. The functionalists studied the process of transactions or regular patterns of interaction and explained them in terms of what a particular transaction or interaction did for a group of people.
             
              For example, according to Fifth (1973: 77), political symbols can be used as instruments of public control. Firth (1973) argues that a person or a party can control the mobilization efficacy of symbols arises mainly because system of symbols are not always consistent and coherent. It is the arbitration of association with meaning which makes symbols manipulable. Precisely due to this symbols become instruments of power struggle.
             
              For the functionalist however the important fact is how a symbol or a 'set' of symbols relate to the totality of the symbolizing complex of ideas. The shift from function of meaning of religion took into account communicative aspect of human actions.
             
              Every action is a communicative action. This position has now led us to a consideration of religious as a set of symbols which throws light on the communicative dimension of an action as well as the capacity of human beings to create culture through symbols. We find that the structuralists suggest interesting possibilities in the interpretation of religion.
             
              They all fasten on to the communicative aspect of such structuralists as Levi- Strauss and, to a lesser extent. Leach emphasis the mentalist (intellectualist) aspect and strive towards a natural science model in the interpretation of religious symbols. Finding it hard to sustain, Evans-Pritchard and others developed an approach are the symbolic analyses of Mary Douglas, Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz.
             
              It is a well established notion that religion views human behavior in terms of cosmic order and reflects that cosmic order in human actions. Geertz (1966) argued that in empirical terms not many tried to inquire as to how this is actually achieved. In sociology we have very good theoretical framework to analyze socialization process of child, succession to political power, economic processes of production, distribution and consumption, etc. but for a long time little progress was made in the field of religion. It was the study of religion as a system of symbols that provided a break through. This discussion will be followed by a more detailed examination of the symbolic analyses of Douglas, Turner and Geertz.
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