Religion is a set of beliefs, practices and ethics that is deeply embedded in the fabric of society. It is a central component of our cultural identity, social structures, and legal systems. Studying religion is a valuable and critical part of the social studies curriculum because it helps students understand their own values, beliefs, and social identities, as well as the perspectives of others around the world.
The Study of Religion
The study of religion is a complex, interdisciplinary endeavor that blends textual analysis with history, philosophy and anthropology. It teaches students to think critically about the religious dimension of society, while also fostering the understanding of global contexts and encouraging civic participation in the classroom.
Sociology of Religion
In the 19th century, scholars such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx attempted to address the question of how religion affects society. They sought to find a way to account for the role of religion in society, without allowing it to dominate.
This approach led to the development of a variety of sociological approaches to religion. Those who study religion typically employ a variety of methods to examine the relationship between religion and society, including survey research, sociological theory, and historical data.
Historically, the term religion did not primarily refer to a social genus or cultural type but rather was derived from the Latin word religio, which meant “scrupulousness”. This definition reflects an early understanding that a religious practice was characterized by a person’s fidelity to the belief system. It was also associated with taboos, promises, curses and transgressions that often shaped people’s behavior and created rivalries between different social groups.
Contemporary research suggests that religion can serve a variety of positive purposes in society, such as enhancing self-control, developing social skills and building communities. Those who study religion seek to understand the many ways that religion impacts society, from the way we treat others to the way that we interact with each other on a daily basis.
One of the most common ways that social science teachers incorporate the study of religion into the curriculum is through the use of surveys and polls. These are effective methods for studying the impact of religion on society, and can be used to assess how religious belief influences people’s everyday lives and beliefs.