Durkheim’s View on Religion

Blog #2

According to Durkheim religion is a very important part of a society. He describes religion as something that society participates in by performing rituals and using different symbols. A ritual is described as a “highly routinized act” (Sociological Theory in the Classical Era p. 135) which is carried out with a degree of reverence. For example, the activities that take place on Independence Day (in America)occurs every year on July 4th and there is a certain patriotic feeling that comes along with celebrating this holiday. People gather together with family and friends in order to have cook outs, watch fireworks or other activities meaningful to them.

Durkheim also describes how religion contains symbols which can be viewed as either sacred or profane. Using Independence Day as an example again, this holiday is considered to be sacred since it happens only once a year and it represents the day when America gained its independence from England. The activities that occur on Independence Day represents a time of celebration. Independence Day is also unique because spaces that are considered to be profane (not sacred places) such as parks, open fields, backyards, etc. are converted to a sacred area where festivities can occur. This shows that religion overall is not an individual system, it involves the whole society.


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