Essay On Religion As A Social Institution

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Religion as a Social Institution

Introduction to Sociology 100 – 04

This essay will focus on a social institution in the United States and makes use of secondary data research to explain the topic. Social institutions have a distinguishing characteristic in societies. An institution is not limited to specific organizations; it has a much broader definition and scope. Social institutions are “formal and informal rules that define how we are supposed to act” (Eisenberg 2011). A social institution is basically an arrangement of the society that regulates our behavior in specific ways. Social institutions can be found in almost every society because they help in providing lasting solutions to the society. Every large society has five main institutions; they are the government, religion, education, family and economic. They “originate from patterns of interactions among types/groups of people” (Eisenberg 2011). These institutions once developed, are not easy to change. Although each social institution is different by itself, they are interrelated and somehow converge in our daily lives.
Religion by itself is a “unified system of belief whose purpose is to explain why things exist as they do” (Eisenberg 2011). It is a set of beliefs and practices regarding things that help the society understand the meaning and purpose of life. Religion is also a social institution that answers questions and explains things that may seem incomprehensible. It is also a social institution because it provides patterns of beliefs that help a society meet its basic needs. It provides answers for questions like why do we die, how were we born, and what happens to us after we die.
One aspect of religious belief that is explained in this essay is the creator factor. The fact that some religions believe that one god created people whereas other religions believe that different gods created people. However, some religions believe in the way of life. Religion is based on the belief of the existence of just a single deity. This belief is also called monotheism. However, some people believe in polytheism, which is the belief of the existence of multiple gods. There are five major publicly accepted religions and people are usually complied with one of them. They are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For example, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are monotheistic whereas Hinduism is polytheistic. However, Buddhism believes in the way of life and not any creator.
However, religious organizations can be divided into three major categories. They are church, sect, and cult. Religion in the United States plays a very important role. The number of people who go to the church every week and the number of people who go to the church once every month can illustrate this. In the United States, the intensity of a person’s religious beliefs is based on the race, ethnicity, culture, and social class of the people present. For example, a majority of the rich people in the United States are either Protestants or Jews. Whereas the less affluent people usually happen to be Catholics. Another interesting thing to note would be the fact that many people are changing the religion into which they were born in favor of the religion they desire.
The tables attached to this essay can illustrate this perfectly. The Barna group performed this research. They have been performing researches and using polls to find out the statistics of the number of people who attend church since 1984. The Barna group is a reliable source because the group is a Christian polling firm with its base in California. It was formed mainly to do research and was formed at the bridge of faith and culture in 1984. However, since they have been doing research since 1984, there