Sociologists study religion as both a belief system and a social institution. There are three main approaches to defining religion, in sociology: Substantive Functional Social constructionist Max Weber (1905) used a substantive definition of religion, seeing it as a belief in a supernatural power that is unable to be scientifically explained. The task of building a scientific understanding of religion is a central part of the sociological enterprise. As someone (hopefully!) The Influence of Religion on Social Development. Conversely, the power of Weber’s theories of sociology to help understand religious history was brought to contemporary public and academic audiences in the publication of the seminal work by Norman Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 BCE (1999). As a belief system, religion shapes what people think and how they see the world. In other words, whether a belief can be considered religious or not depends on the substance of what is believed. As a social institution, religion is a pattern of social action organized around the beliefs and practices that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence. Sociology of religion, if anything, teaches you to be more aware of how people arrive at where they are at and what actions their religious framework makes available to them. — The importance of religion as a factor in social evolution, particularly in tribal organization and race differentiation, has been acknowledged by nearly all students of sociology. Some have placed so much emphasis upon its importance as to lead to the conclusion that it is the primal influence in securing primitive social unity. During the 1960s, especially, it became a key social science subject, taught in universities and colleges, and with the development of the sociology ´A´ level during the 1970s it became a major subject in schools too. These include (a) giving meaning and purpose to life, (b) reinforcing social unity and stability, (c) serving as an agent of social control of behavior, (d) promoting physical and psychological well-being, and (e) motivating people to work for positive social change. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions, and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. Sociology was first taught in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century but the expansion here took place much more recently and was at first greatly influenced by US sociology. Indeed, in one sense the origins of the sociology can be attributed to the efforts of nineteenth-century Europeans to come to grips with the crisis of faith that shook Western society during the revolutionary upheavals of its industrial transformation. Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Theoretical perspective Major assumptions; Functionalism: Religion serves several functions for society. continuing in the academic track, sociology of religion is so, so important.