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Anthropologists have investigated and discussed religion and society for years. These two elements have been the focus of numerous ethnographies and articles written by a variety of anthropologists. Since Levy-Bruhl and Durkheims statements that religion and society are varied, numerous reports on various cultures throughout the world have shown the close relationship between religion and society. In many cases, religion acts as a social regulator for behavior toward your neighbors. Furthermore, belief in certain religions has been used to improve things such as working conditions. Religion has, in many cases throughout the world, served to guide people on social behavior as well as provide societies with a code of conduct. With the ever-increasing presence of capitalism, which is creating one big monoculture more and more every day, religion still maintains a very important relationship with societies. It helps to explain many of life's questions, as well as helping to define a person's position in life and provides them with guidance. While there have been numerous reports showing this important relationship, the most convincing examples can be found by observing the five elements of Leviticus, spirit possession, witchcraft or sorcery, millenarianism, and rites of passage.
In Mary Douglas's book Purity and Danger, she discus's the notion of wholeness, or pureness, in relation to Leviticus. In this section of the Bible, it is said that there were things made by God and those that were not. Devoutly religious people use this section of the Bible to guide them on things that can be eaten and those that are tabooed. The act of following the strict rules of Leviticus is one step towards being completely pure. Remaining holy and pure is explained in relation to socially acceptable behavior by observing chapter XIX of Leviticus; "Theft, lying, false witness, cheating in weights and measures, all kinds of dissembling such as speaking ill of the deaf, and hating your brother in your heart." These examples show different aspects of how religion is related to society and the way people conduct themselves in various spheres of life. Whether it's socially tabooed foods, or social behavior, rules must be followed according to ones religion in order to remain pure and whole.
Asen Balicki's report "Shamanistic Behavior Among the Netsilik Eskimos" is an excellent example of how the Eskimos belief in shamans and spirit possession has had an effect on their society. Shamans are people who claim they can be possessed by spirits and in Eskimo life, they have the ability to manipulate the social life of the people. One of the aspects of social life that the shaman can manipulate is the environment. When there is no game and hunters are having a hard time finding food, shaman's can find out the location of game with the help of his spirits. A shaman and his helping spirits (tunraq) would direct game towards the hunters. Furthermore, the shamans could also control the weather, which is done to aid the hunters in finding game and travelers who will be going for long distances. Shamans also help their society by aiding in individual and group crisis that usually results from a breach of taboo, which angers the spirits and usually results in someone getting sick. An individual who gets sick is a group crisis because, for example, if the father becomes ill, no one will be available to hunt for game except for the mother. If she leaves no one will be around to cook and sew. Every person in this society has an integral role in the smooth operation of day-to-day activities.
Therefore, it is important that shamans heal illnesses promptly. A third aspect of social life that shamans help to maintain is interpersonal relations. This category involves
aggressive acts by the shaman. Most
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Aihwa Ong, Eric J. Hobsbawm, Victor Turner, Asen Balicki, Mary Douglas, Mr. Eastwell, Harry D. Eastwell, Danger,
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Malaysia, Omaha, Australia, East Arnhem,
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society, spirit possession, social, shamans, witchcraft, social life, religious beliefs, millenarianism, eskimos, high level, social behavior, social position, Leviticus, evil spirit, social relations, liminal stage, world religion, working conditions, every single day, social norms, numerous, Azande, free trade zone, social change, taboos, reports, integral, female infanticide, one step, weights and measures, interpersonal relations, aggressive, Victor Turner, Mary Douglas, betwixt and between, game, false witness, Voodoo Death, Omaha Indians, revolutionary movements, no game, hunters, modern medicine, Eric J, Jesus Christ, new world, Hobsbawm, strict, various, societies,