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Scholarly interest in religion is not a recent one. The Veda, Upanishad and the treatises of Greek, philosophers, like Aristotle and Plato, are texts which show scholarly interest in religion. It has to be admitted that Theology and philosophy far ahead in the study of religion than the relatively new and recent discipline of Sociology of Religion. Here, we are concerned with sociological interest in religion. Such classical sociologists as Durkheim and Weber studied in different ways the significance of religion. This interest is again revived in the present times. There are three observable trends in the sociology of religion. Sociological interest in religion began to emerge after the merchant-voyagers, missionaries and the colonialists 'discovered' the pre- modem societies. Here anthropologists and sociologists seemed to share an interest in religion. Sociological interest in religion received an impetus following the industrial revolution in Europe. Industrial revolution followed the breakdown of feudalism in the fifteenth century. Scholars of this stream were more interested in analyzing the 'fate' of religion in the industrial world. Sociological interest in religion is evident in those studies which trace the growth of religious revivalism in societies of late-industrial phase, and early post-industrial phase. Scholars of this stream are engaged in analyzing the reasons for the survival of religion. In this third stream, we witness the presence of a large number of third world scholars, who are concerned with questions of Islamic fundamentalism, and Sinhala-Buddhist and Hindu communalism. 1) Pre-modern Societies 2) Industrial society 3) Religious revivalism (1) Pre-modern Societies: During the first phase of the development of Sociology of Religion, the origin and evolution of Religion was studied. Explanations of two types can be identified: (i) Individualistic explanations, and (ii) Social explanations. Individualist's explanations laid emphasis on: (i) The cognitive (intellectual) or (ii) The emotional aspects of Religion. Both varieties of explanation of Religion by Anthropologists and Sociologists were based on material related to primitive people around the world. Edward B. Tylor (1881) and Herbert Spencer (1882) are the Intellectualists, as they opined that pre-modern man had to evolve Religion for explaining the phenomena of dreams, echoes and deaths. They hold that Religion might vanish when its explanatory function is taken over by Science. Some scholars like Paul Radin (1938), put emphasis on the emotional aspects of Religion. According to this school of thought, Religion is pre-modern person's emotional response to overcome a frightening situation. Religion helps one to overcome one's feeling of powerlessness. Durkheim (1912) also emphasizes the emotional component of Religion. In his opinion, Rituals and beliefs about the sacred emerge from the emotional outburst of the hunting tribes, when they come together after separation. Durkheim's explanation of Religion includes its social dimension and functional necessities. In the words of Durkheim, "Religion is 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 into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them". Durkheim has identified totemism as the elementary form of Religion. The 'totem' is a sacred object. It is also the market of a social group. This totem is exalted during the generation of 'collective effervescence' when individuals come together as a group. Rituals and beliefs emerge from the group, as well as strengthen the solidarity of the group. The Religion has survived from the time immemorial, although in various forms. The reason is, it has performed specific functions for the Society e.g. 'integration' of Society. The scholars like Radcliffe-Brown (1952), Talcott Parsons (1954) and Milton Yinger (1957) have affirmed, elaborated and reconstructed, Some of these functionalist arguments. (2) Industrial Societies: Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Weber (1864-1920) are two important scholars who have explained Religion in industrial societies in detail. They argue that Religion is increasingly losing its reason or justification for existence. A time will come after which Religion will be no more. For Max Weber, rationalization is the main theme and for Karl Marx, class conflict. Karl Marx (1979), holds that Religion in this world of exploitation is an expression of distress as well as a protest against the real distress. Thus, Religion continues to survive because of oppressive social conditions. When this oppressive and exploitative condition is destroyed, Religion will not remain necessary. Karl Marx opines that Religion is a component of superstructure broadly, the world of ideas. It reflects the base broadly put, the mode production comprising relations of production and forces of production. It is disputed whether base or material condition can determine the superstructure or realm of ideas. It is argued by some neo-Marxist scholars that, in some cases, the realm of ideas many become relatively independent and try to subvert the material conditions or the base. Religion has come to be accepted as a possible instrument of social change also. Max Weber also holds that Religion will vanish ultimately. However, he demonstrates the power of Religious ideas to act as forces of development. He has systematically analysed the doctrines of certain Protestant sects like Lutheranism, Calvinism and Pietisem and believe that Ethics generated by these sects have aided capitalist development in many European countries. Calvin's doctrine of predestination, hold that God had chosen his people already, and one could live by faith alone. He criticized all kinds of Magical practices followed by Catholics. The doctrine of predestination gave birth to the questions, "Am I one of the God's chosen?" in the minds of the believers. This question resulted in the hard work and asceticism greater glory of God. As a result, there was accumulation of wealth (capital) which was reinvested to accelerate the pace of industrialization. In this way, Religious ideas generated by the protestant sects aided capitalist development. (3) Religious Revivalism: Many scholars predicted that Religion would ultimately vanish. However, contrary to their expectation, there has been a Religious revivalism in many parts of the world. In recent times there has been a fresh growth of fundamentalist Protestant sects in the United States as well as Religious revivalism in many Asian countries. The Religion tends to increasingly become a tool of political mobilization. In some of the Latin American countries, Christianity has become the tool of resistance against exploitation. Even in those places where Religion seems to lose its hold, a private Religion is seemingly emerging. In other words, a personal interpretation of Religious doctrines is tolerated.
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he Development of Sociology of Religion
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He Development Of Sociology Of Religion

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              Scholarly interest in religion is not a recent one. The Veda, Upanishad and the treatises of Greek, philosophers, like Aristotle and Plato, are texts which show scholarly interest in religion. It has to be admitted that Theology and philosophy far ahead in the study of religion than the relatively new and recent discipline of Sociology of Religion. Here, we are concerned with sociological interest in religion. Such classical sociologists as Durkheim and Weber studied in different ways the significance of religion.
             
              This interest is again revived in the present times. There are three observable trends in the sociology of religion. Sociological interest in religion began to emerge after the merchant-voyagers, missionaries and the colonialists 'discovered' the pre- modem societies. Here anthropologists and sociologists seemed to share an interest in religion.
             
              Sociological interest in religion received an impetus following the industrial revolution in Europe. Industrial revolution followed the breakdown of feudalism in the fifteenth century. Scholars of this stream were more interested in analyzing the 'fate' of religion in the industrial world.
             
              Sociological interest in religion is evident in those studies which trace the growth of religious revivalism in societies of late-industrial phase, and early post-industrial phase. Scholars of this stream are engaged in analyzing the reasons for the survival of religion. In this third stream, we witness the presence of a large number of third world scholars, who are concerned with questions of Islamic fundamentalism, and Sinhala-Buddhist and Hindu communalism.
             
              1) Pre-modern Societies
             
              2) Industrial society
             
              3) Religious revivalism
             
              (1) Pre-modern Societies:
             
              During the first phase of the development of Sociology of Religion, the origin and evolution of Religion was studied. Explanations of two types can be identified:
             
              (i) Individualistic explanations, and
             
              (ii) Social explanations.
             
              Individualist's explanations laid emphasis on:
             
              (i) The cognitive (intellectual) or
             
              (ii) The emotional aspects of Religion.
             
              Both varieties of explanation of Religion by Anthropologists and Sociologists were based on material related to primitive people around the world. Edward B. Tylor (1881) and Herbert Spencer (1882) are the Intellectualists, as they opined that pre-modern man had to evolve Religion for explaining the phenomena of dreams, echoes and deaths. They hold that Religion might vanish when its explanatory function is taken over by Science.
             
              Some scholars like Paul Radin (1938), put emphasis on the emotional aspects of Religion. According to this school of thought, Religion is pre-modern person's emotional response to overcome a frightening situation. Religion helps one to overcome one's feeling of powerlessness. Durkheim (1912) also emphasizes the emotional component of Religion.
             
              In his opinion, Rituals and beliefs about the sacred emerge from the emotional outburst of the hunting tribes, when they come together after separation. Durkheim's explanation of Religion includes its social dimension and functional necessities. In the words of Durkheim, "Religion is 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 into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them". Durkheim has identified totemism as the elementary form of Religion.
             
              The 'totem' is a sacred object. It is also the market of a social group. This totem is exalted during the generation of 'collective effervescence' when individuals come together as a group. Rituals and beliefs emerge from the group, as well as strengthen the solidarity of the group.
             
              The Religion has survived from the time immemorial, although in various forms. The reason is, it has performed specific functions for the Society e. g. 'integration' of Society. The scholars like Radcliffe-Brown (1952), Talcott Parsons (1954) and Milton Yinger (1957) have affirmed, elaborated and reconstructed, Some of these functionalist arguments.
             
              (2) Industrial Societies:
             
              Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Weber (1864-1920) are two important scholars who have explained Religion in industrial societies in detail. They argue that Religion is increasingly losing its reason or justification for existence.
             
              A time will come after which Religion will be no more. For Max Weber, rationalization is the main theme and for Karl Marx, class conflict. Karl Marx (1979), holds that Religion in this world of exploitation is an expression of distress as well as a protest against the real distress. Thus, Religion continues to survive because of oppressive social conditions. When this oppressive and exploitative condition is destroyed, Religion will not remain necessary.
             
              Karl Marx opines that Religion is a component of superstructure broadly, the world of ideas. It reflects the base broadly put, the mode production comprising relations of production and forces of production. It is disputed whether base or material condition can determine the superstructure or realm of ideas. It is argued by some neo-Marxist scholars that, in some cases, the realm of ideas many become relatively independent and try to subvert the material conditions or the base.
             
              Religion has come to be accepted as a possible instrument of social change also. Max Weber also holds that Religion will vanish ultimately. However, he demonstrates the power of Religious ideas to act as forces of development. He has systematically analysed the doctrines of certain Protestant sects like Lutheranism, Calvinism and Pietisem and believe that Ethics generated by these sects have aided capitalist development in many European countries.
             
              Calvin's doctrine of predestination, hold that God had chosen his people already, and one could live by faith alone. He criticized all kinds of Magical practices followed by Catholics. The doctrine of predestination gave birth to the questions, "Am I one of the God's chosen? " in the minds of the believers. This question resulted in the hard work and asceticism greater glory of God. As a result, there was accumulation of wealth (capital) which was reinvested to accelerate the pace of industrialization. In this way, Religious ideas generated by the protestant sects aided capitalist development.
             
              (3) Religious Revivalism:
             
              Many scholars predicted that Religion would ultimately vanish. However, contrary to their expectation, there has been a Religious revivalism in many parts of the world.
             
              In recent times there has been a fresh growth of fundamentalist Protestant sects in the United States as well as Religious revivalism in many Asian countries. The Religion tends to increasingly become a tool of political mobilization.
             
              In some of the Latin American countries, Christianity has become the tool of resistance against exploitation. Even in those places where Religion seems to lose its hold, a private Religion is seemingly emerging. In other words, a personal interpretation of Religious doctrines is tolerated.
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