The Psychology of Religion

By George Albert Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
RELIGION AS GROUP CONDUCT

That religion is a social phenomenon is already obvious. But the term "society" covers many kinds of groupings and many kinds of group enterprise. We must therefore go on to consider whether the sociality of religion may not be of various species. In particular we shall need to discriminate between the mechanism of group action (the structure) and the satisfactions that such action brings (the functions). In both the structural and the functional direction, in fact, we shall find important differences. They gather about certain types of group conduct that will now be described. Let it be remembered, however, that setting things apart for purposes of description does not imply any equal apartness in history. Differences develop for the most part gradually, so that types shade into one another. Moreover, contrasting types may live side by side.

Bearing in mind this caution as to the meaning of our classification, we may easily recognize three chief types of religious group conduct.


I. THE RELIGIOUS CROWD

I.The type. --Considered as social grouping and social enterprise, what is the difference between an old- fashioned negro revival and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference? A question like this reveals at once the existence of religious crowds as distinguished from other religious groups. The earliest religious group conduct

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