Definitions of Religion in Sociology


Emile Durkheim defined religion in terms of its functions in society. He argued that religion is a product of society and serves a need for social solidarity. It also reinforces mental states and collective energies. Ultimately, religion provides meaning to people’s lives and helps to sustain social solidarity. It also creates basic rules and concentrations of collective energy.


Dualism in religion is a philosophical idea that is prevalent in many religions. Some of these traditions include Christianity and Islam, but they are not the only ones. Gnostics have also adopted dualism.


Predestination in religion is a doctrine that enables Christians to enjoy the assurance of God’s election and grace. It is a doctrine that is plainly taught by Scripture. However, there are many evangelicals who disown predestination and its practical application.


Karma is a Hindu concept that describes a system of past actions, both beneficial and harmful, that have repercussions in the present. Ultimately, Karma is a cyclical process that forms the basis of rebirth.


Ritual is defined by the performance of an activity in a religious context. However, the exact definition of ritual can be difficult to establish. In general, rituals are associated with religious activity, whereas customs and ceremonies are not associated with religion. In European fully institutionalized churches, defining rituals is easy, but it is a more difficult task in more exotic societies. The use of analytic concepts can help to overcome this ambiguity.

Spiritual experience

A religious experience is a subjective experience that is understood and interpreted within a religious framework. This concept dates back to the nineteenth century and originated as a reaction to the growing rationalism of Western society. It was popularised by William James.

Unique social forms of community

In the United States, there are many different forms of religion. While it is difficult to define any particular religion, sociologists generally recognize four characteristics common to all religious groups: belief, ritual, spiritual experience, and unique social forms of community.