Chapter

Teaching the Critics

Terry F. Godlove, Jr.

in Teaching Durkheim

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195165272
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784554 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195165276.003.0006

Series: AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series

 Teaching the Critics

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This chapter presents a sympathetic portrayal of Durkheim's “theory of religion” in the Elementary Forms of Religious Life (EF) in the context of major criticisms of that work. It shows that EF puts forward two independent approaches to its subject. One approach is functionalist; it tries to account for the existence and persistence of religion by appealing to the cohesion religion supplies to society; it accounts for the behavior and beliefs of individuals as an appeal to the needs of the whole. The other approach posits a causal mechanism by which religious ideas and symbols are generated in the very act of assembly — the theory of collective effervescence — what William Pickering calls “effervescent assembly” and Randall Collins “ritual solidarity”.

Keywords: theory of religion; Elementary Forms of Religious Life; functionalist approach; causal mechanism; theory of collective effervescence

Chapter.  11576 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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