Saturday, November 30, 2019

Rational Choice Theory

Sociology of religion According to Johnson, when defining the sociology of religion we look at the definition of the term religion as well as the task sociology has in the study of religion. Sociology plays an important role in the study as it involves the recognition of the social reality of any social phenomenon (Johnson 2).Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Rational Choice Theory specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More According to Johnson, sociology is the study of how human beings interact with each other within groups. It focuses on how such interactions have an influence on human behavior. In other words, sociology is a field of science that strives to explain the group dynamics and how the groups have influenced individuals and human activities. Groups influence human behavior as they change, shape, and modify an individual’s behavior in one way or another. Groupings exist in the family setting, educational programs, as well as peer associations (2). In this respect, religion can be a subject of sociological study as it falls within the constraints of a group. Religion is a group phenomenon because religious organizations tend to organize themselves in groups known as congregations, fellowships, dioceses, and denominations. In this case, sociology helps us understand religion as a social phenomenon (Johnson 3). According to Johnson, sociologists in attempting to define religion have come up with two forms of definitions. There are substantive as well as functional definitions. They go hand in hand in coming up with a clear-cut definition of religion. The substantive and the functional definitions provide a foundation in which one can understand the meaning of religion and the impact it has on the lives of the people. The substantive definition focuses on the nature of religion when it is at its core. In other words, it focuses on the essence of religion (9). On the other hand, the fun ctional definition mainly focuses on the impact religion has to the people who practice the religion. In combining the two definitions, sociologists have defined religion to be a phenomenon whose subject matter involves the provision of answers to all questions. It is a phenomenon that is sacred, holy and one that has a supernatural bearing (13). At this point, the sociology of religion involves the description of the reality of religion. According to Johnson, sociology approaches all its subjects with neutrality as well as objectivity when describing reality. Religion is no exception despite its emotional nature and the immeasurable values attached to it. In other words, by the fact that religion qualifies to be a group phenomenon, its sociological investigation must be neutral and objective. In addition, the sociology of religion is of empirical nature. In any study including the study of religion, one must come up with the relevant empirical information and data. This involves fa ctual analysis, evidence, as well as verifiable procedures. In this case, the sociology of religion involves subjecting the study of religion to scientific methods (7).Advertising Looking for essay on social sciences? Let's see if we can help you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More The importance of the sociology of religion However, sociology’s limitation in describing the reality of religion exists as it can only make conclusions on the phenomenon that can be perceivable. To support or dispute any sociological theory, the relevant empirical data and information has to accompany the study. In this case, the study of religion involves forces that are generally unperceivable as it is a sacred, spiritual, and supernatural phenomenon. In addition, religion encompasses emotions and faith, which are incapable of measurement (Johnson 8). In this respect, many have argued that sociologists cannot study religion, as they cannot describe the unobservable (Johns on 7). However, according to Yinger, empirical investigation may not be capable of fully revealing the essence of religion. However, its participation to the study of religion has a great contribution to understanding religion. The argument of the church stained window supports the relevance of the empirical study of religion. To fully admire the beauty and understand the message on the church stained window it requires one to be inside the church. However, the view from the inside constitutes a fraction of what one can learn regarding the window. One can only appreciate the context of the exterior framework when he is outside. In addition, in studying the stained church window we may consider information that does not relate with viewing the window from the outside or from the inside. For example, we may consider the reasons for its installation and make comparisons with other windows of the same nature. It is therefore, important in the study of religion to consider the sociology of religion as an avenue to help us understand religion (4). The sociology of religion involves answering questions of religion empirically has the effect of amplifying our understanding. In other words, sociology can be an additional tool to further our understanding to the study of religion. Rational choice theory The rational choice theory strives to provide an explanation regarding the purpose of religion in the society. The essence of the theory is not only centered on religion’s persistence but also deals with the observation of ubiquity of religion within different societies (Bellah 19). The rational choice theory entails that human beings make social, economic, and political choices through rationalization. They can also make rational religious choices. Rational choices come about in instances whereby a person chooses not to address his opinion in a group whereby everyone has an opposing opinion.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Rational Choice T heory specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More According to Johnson, constrains of human rationality are found within the extent of their understanding and the information they posses. In addition, human beings make rational choices based on their tastes and preferences. Rational choice theorists have introduced the aspect of supply and demand for purposes of understanding why people make certain choices that dictates their religious behavior. They argue that religion brings forth rewards and gains in which the religious people desire. For example, likeminded people fellowship together, provides emotional support to each other, and the promise of a brilliant life when one dies. However, the dynamics of demand and supply entail that for every reward or gain there is a cost. In this case, the cost comes in the form that one has to change his lifestyle to conform to what the religion dictates (37). In some instances, it may involve sacrificing o ne’s leisure time to take part in the religious group’s activities. According to Johnson, the rational choice theory does not strive to explain the origin of religion. The rational choice theory comes in to explain the reasons why people turn to the religious ideas and systems for answers, solutions, and protection (36). Works Cited Yinger, Milton. The Scientific Study of Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1970. Print. Bellah, Robert. The Ritual Roots of Society and Culture, a Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print. Johnstone, Ronald. Religion in Society, a Sociology of Religion. Pearson: Prentice-Hall, 2007. Print. 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