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3. Religious "rethinking of individual"2 - Emile Durkheim approach

Emile Durkheim is known as a functionalist, who imaged society as a one organically-joined system in which the social played the most im­portant role. He was the author of the broadly known statement describ­ing the nature of society as a reality sui generis. By this expression he proved that every single element of the social, every social fact is real and by its nature (genuineness), must be driven from society itself. In such a collectively-oriented work [Alexander 1989, p. 123; Ray 1999, p.

90], reli­gion in his view played a crucial role; but, what is interesting, can be per­ceived throughout an individualistic perspective.
2 See: Seidman 1989, p. 64.

The starting point of Emile Durkheim's analysis was the problem of segmentation of social structure that he observed by phenomena of social morphology (intrinsic condition of complexity of social rela­tions, distances of social ties etc.). Facing the essence of modern socie­ties: strongly inter-differentiated and freed, Durkheim observed that the individual who gained the independency, was released from any obliga­tions. In result, he might have lost the sense of social kins and - in the darkest scenario of anomic, unprincipled context - prone to suicidal dis­position [Seidman 1989, p. 65]. In such a counter-factual context, when "moderns make the individual sacred [and] individualism [become] pu­bic religion" [Seidman 1989, p. 61], dangerous lack of social integration can be easily observed [Ray 1999, p. 101]3.

Inspired by traditional (primitive, integrated) communities, in oppo­sition to which modernity was displayed as its antithesis [Seidman 1989, p. 60], Emile Durkheim brought up the problem of coherence, which, in his opinion, lied in social morphology. The coherence was represented and could be "fulfilled" by social solidarity. According to Durkheim's re­sponse to, what makes (primitive) societies socially coherent (unified) as a whole, was the solidarity with its "religiously based common culture" [Seidman 1989, p. 59]. "Common", in this context, means the same val­ues and social attitude towards them shared by everybody - that can be described in other words as a "symbolic representation" of an "uni­tary collective consciousness" [Ray 1999, p. 97, 107].

Thereby the remedy on modernistic irregularities and social inco­herence, was the religion itself, understood as the "religion of humani­ty" - and perceived as its inevitable fact. According to Seidman's accurate commentary, "Durkheim argued that, when intense group feelings are at­tached to an idea or object, and these feelings are articulated in shared be­liefs and social practices, we are witnessing what is in the essence of reli­gion" [Seidman 1989, p. 64]. So the religion was not the set of relatively stable symbols or continual habits but rather perceived as the mechanism (process) that leads people to unite in one community, one organism. "De­spite the secularity of modernity, as evidence in the separation of the church and state and in the decline of Judeo-Christian dogma, it evolves its own religion of humanity" [Seidman 1989, p. 64].

In this light, Emile Durkheim is seen to have interpreted religion that was deeply secularized: as a plane of social ideas, patterns of hu­man activity, creating fertile field for morality and social integration, broadly known as an "organic/mechanical solidarity". The climax of Durkheim's analysis upon religion was the declaration that the society it­self was the god - the heart of morality [Durkheim 1990, p. 38]: 'hyper-spirituality' [Lukes 1975, p. 234].

3 Although, as Ray depicts, "the decline of religion in modern societies does not indi­cate social pathology, rather its generality confirms that is normal process" [Ray 1999, p. 92].

The matter of function of religion in Emile Durkheim works is a phenomenon par excellance social [Szacki 1964]. Religion - with the kinship in its core [Ray 1999, p. 97] should be therefore assumed as a mechanism which integrates all social relations [Krasnodebski 1999; Tarkowska 1990]. But also can be interpreted as a kind of a total system - as the source as well as the source of control4 of every single ac­tion of human activity:

"Religion is a system interconnected beliefs and religious practices related to sacred matters what means - specific and forbidden, beliefs and practices that unify all believers into moral community called as a church" [Durkheim 1990, p. 41].

Emile Durkheim idea was precisely reflected in Jeffrey Alexander commentary, who declared that social "order could be stable only if it were external in ontological sense" [Alexander 1989, p. 127], what was precisely explained in example of totem [Durkheim 1990; Ray 1999, p. 106-107] and also in the statement that "collective order would be ac­cepted because it held to be sacred" [Alexander 1989, p. 136-137].

As we can see, Emile Durkheim approach to religion was deeply originated from the social. It was both - its result and also its driving force that could integrate the whole community, guarantee its coherence and stability, and certainly confirm it. What is remarkable for Emile Durkheim conception is the fact that religion is an 'invisible' but inevita­ble idea, a mechanism, a process that contributes social order.

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Источник: Девятых Сергей Юрьевич. Общество, культура, личность. Актуальные проблемы со­циально-гуманитарного знания. 2012

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