Functionalist Emile Durkheim often used an organism to help explain the functionalist’s vision of society. It was in their opinion that each component of society was crucial in terms of society’s overall health. In order for society to survive, all components must work together, if one component was to break down then society would suffer. Each component is as important as the other, as they all fulfils different objectives.
‘If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of religion’ Functionalists approach can be applied to all institution. view religion as a positive element to society. They believe it plays a very important role in society, by providing general morals that people could follow. They believe that without religion, society wouldn’t function, and it would cause conflict and disorder of religion and, to also help maintain compliance in the control of society. Functionalists view our society like a machine, which requires all its parts to work. They see religion as being a part of this machine and they believe that without religion, the society could collapse. Durkheim for example believed that religion provided three functions within society such as, social control- like the 10 commandments, they provide a set of rules that are sacred and that all members must abide to, so everyone has the same morals and values. Social cohesion- which help maintain the social glue that keeps society working together, through their shared beliefs
Functionalist also seen religion as a coping mechanism, to help people come to terms with a loss of a loved one or friend, by providing a funeral and a service to allow family and friends to grieve together and help them cope. Overall functionalists only view religion in a positive light and they disregard the negative affects that religion may have in society. One disadvantage of the functionalist’s perspective is that they don’t realise that religion can cause a lot of conflict, for example conflict with other known religions, as beliefs may differ.