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In What Ways did Durkheim and Weber Regard Totemism and Ascetic Protestanism Respectively as Important Influences on the Behaviour of People

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Things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them (Elementary Forms for Religious Life, p. 44). Nearer to the end of the book Durkheim revises and secularizes his definition as, first and foremost, a system of ideas by which men [sic] imagine the society of which they are members and the obscure yet intimate relations they have with it (p. 227) (Townsley, 2004).Emile Durkheim placed himself in the positivist tradition, meaning that he thought of his study of society as dispassionate and scientific. He was deeply interested in the problem of what held complex modern societies together. Religion, he argued, was an expression of social cohesion. His underlying interest was to understand the basic forms of religious life for all societies. Durkheim saw totemism as the original form of religion. The totemic animal, Durkheim believed, was the original focus of religious activity because it was the emblem for a social group, the clan. He thought that the function of religion was to make people willing to put the interests of society ahead of their own desires. One of the major functions of religion according to Durkheim was to prepare people for social life.Durkheim thought that the model for relationships between people and the supernatural was the relationship between individuals and the community. He is famous for suggesting that God is society, writ large. Durkheim believed that people ordered the physical world, the supernatural world, and the social world according to similar principles.Durkheim’s first purpose was to identify the social origin of religion as he felt that religion was a source of camaraderie and solidarity. It was the individual’s way of becoming recognizable within an established society. His second purpose was to identify links between certain religions in different cultures, finding a common denominator.