Posted by: loveleigh | July 1, 2009

Soci 3950: week 2 reading response


Claffey: ch. 13

  • In this chapter Claffey compares an older Ireland from when he left to a newer Ireland he found when he returned. I really liked when he talked about his own faith on page 215 “I was not particularly close with church, nor was my family. we practised because everyone else practised but there was no emotional involvement with the church.” I found this really interesting because religion is a huge part of the Irish culture and it is evident everywhere I visit. But here is someone who has grown up in Ireland saying he and his family only went to church because everyone else did. It makes me wonder how many other families felt the same.

Inglis: ch. 3 in GI:SD

  • Something new I learned in this chapter is that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day originated in Boston, I had always just assumed that since it celebrates the Irish, It originated in Ireland. Who knew it started in the US? I got really intrigued when Inglis starts talking about “the drinking irish” and the traditional irish pub. Being a college student I witness binge drinking all the time and often wonder the same question Inglis does about my generation “Why is drinking themselves into a stupor, anti-social behavior, mindless aggression and vandalism, the only way they celebrate?” I have no idea why we do this, but I have to agree with Inglis that the attration of getting completely obliterated is letting go and “becoming detached from over-involvement in the world.” He also makes a good point that our society likes to drink in groups of friends or colleagues buying each other drinks and also accepting drinks bought for them. Inglis states that this behavior is a ritual ” It can be seen as a form of ritual self-surrender to the group and, in this respect, as a religious ritual.” I think is a pretty intense statement, comparing getting drunk to something as sacred as a religious ritual.


  1. What is Durkheim’s purpose in arguing the totems are only symbols?  We give the symbols sacred meanings. But the symbol of the totem is more meaningful than the object itself.
  2. If the totems are only expressions, then what is the god?  God is society and society is God. God just like society sets limits and means of control.
  3. Compare society and god, how are they alike? society gives people social norms and so does god. religion and society are key methods of socialization by giving people limits like what is wrong and what is right.
  4. What is moral ascendency? Your intensity of respect for a person in charge and whether or not you do what you’re told by that person.
  5. What is the root of the unquestioning in action, this moral ascendency?  Fear and respect create a physical energy from your mental state, so your actions are a result of this energy.
  6. What is a source of authority? Opinion which is collective and social.
  7. What is the irony that science is thought to be the antagonist of opinion? Science has to provide reason and proof to have power but opinions only have to be collective and social to obtain power.
  8. What is a reason that the link between belief system and membership in society is important? a membership in a group makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself.
  9. How does Durkheim explain why the Crusades occurred? Passions so intense that could only be expressed by violent means. Sensations were so strong that it gave them power and they believed that god was on their side so they were doing no wrong.
  10. What allows something to have moral power and from where does it originate? We value our beliefs and opinions which allow us to have moral power.
  11. Explain how kings and nobles had moral power that they did not posses in and of themselves? Society gave power to the nobility and upheld “sacred character.” You did not argue with your god and you did not argue with your society. thats just the way it was.
  12. What makes something sacred? and how is sacrilege committed? Something  like a symbol or object that society values can  be made sacred by public opinion. Sacrilege is committed by causing offense to god.
  13. How does a clan awaken within its members the idea of external forces wich dominate and exalt them? Through shared rituals a sense of collectiveness is found. During motivational speeches the members fuel each others beliefs by feeding off of each others emotions which can be very powerful and feel as though an external force is happening to you.
  14. How are these external forces thought of as totems? Totems represent a group or membership and this external force a that is felt is associated with the totem. So totems have powerful emotions attached to them.

Inglis: ch. 4 in GI:SD

  • In this chapter I was really interested when Inglis talked about Gaelic sports and thought that it related to our Durkheim readings. Sports are groups in which people become members and start to feel connected to society. The members of the GAA are very passionate about sports, this is evident everywhere you go in Ireland through colors and flags representing a certain county’s team. Each county has their own colors and totems, these things make members feel like they are a part of something more than themselves.

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