Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract

The questions concerning the origin of human religions and their function within culture are a very complex issue, encompassing both individualistic and societal motivations. Using the functionalist paradigm to study religion allows one to examine the sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural factors that influence the origin of religious revitalization and renewal in society. Analyzing the specific social factors that exist in a given society enables one to better understand the social environment and how it acts as a catalyst in the formation of belief systems. Although the human factor facilitates the creation and practice of religion, the individual and group only respond to the social reality of cultural change set before them. This demonstrated in such movements as cargo cults and millenarism. With the format of sociological functionalism in mind, I will analyze the various social elements that not only influenced, but also fostered the creation of Islam and Christianity. In applying a ociological functionalist approach to two of the world's mo t widely held belief system , I will present evidence to convey that they are inherently similar religion , formed for similar reasons in response to harsh short term and long term social change. Therefore, both religions were acting as movements of cultural revitalization.

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