Sacred and Profane

The sociological concepts of the sacred and the profane have their main roots in the theories of Émile Durkheim. The source of modern religion was one of the most important questions for Durkheim. However, a modern world that was highly secularized and characterized by competing ideologies made this a very difficult issue with which to deal. To overcome these difficulties, Durkheim studied primitive societies and the sources of religion within them. Given his core methodological orientation that only one social fact can cause another social fact, Durkheim reached the conclusion that primitive religion (and hence modern religion) was created by society itself. Society (through individuals) is able to create religion by differentiating between what is considered sacred, those things set apart from everyday life and ...

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