He argues that it is only religion that provides a clear distinction between what is sacred from that which is considered profane (Cipriani, n.d). The main function of religion in social life is to unite societies. Durkheim stated the functions of religion such as stability and cohesion, social identity, and social control among others, and he claims that these functions are very important for society to maintain order. He stated that religion was an indication of social cohesion in the society, and so he argued further that modern societies are more secularized and this has diminished mechanical solidarity in these societies (Giddens, 1971). On the other hand, Weber’s views on religion were centred on the connection between religion and economy as he reasoned that Protestantism greatly influenced the emergence and development of capitalism in the society. This paper critically assesses Durkheim and Weber’s views on the social role of religion in society.
Durkheim defined religion based on its function within the society, and he viewed religion as a means of social cohesion arguing that it helps maintaining the society stable and integrated. He defined religion as “a unified belief system relative to sacred things, and that the sacred things are those that are set apart and forbidden” (Cipriani n.d, p.73). Religious beliefs and practices significantly contribute to unity of individuals into a single moral community like the church. He argues that religion is more than just a set of beliefs; it involved prescribed ritual practices and definite institution, which in this case is the church (Giddens, 1971). Religion provides a framework for the values and perceptions that societal members hold, and that the primary role of religion in the society is social integration. Actually, to present a clear understanding of the effects of religion on social solidarity, Durkheim studied a primitive society. His aim was to show how religion connects people and