Religion is human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It includes people’s relationship to texts and dogma as well as their broader concerns about life, death, and the fate of spirits or gods.
Throughout history, various aspects of religious practice have made a strong imprint on culture, including pieces of literature, poetry, art and music, dress codes, ways of organising life together, and physical alterations to the body. These practices can be rooted in different faiths but are often shared by many cultures.
The concept of Religion is a multifaceted, complex phenomenon that has been studied by many disciplines in the academic world. Anthropologists, sociologists, and philosophers are just some of the different kinds of scholars who work with the concept of religion.
One of the most important scholarly approaches to religion is that of critical theory, which is influenced by Foucauldian and post-colonial thought. This approach argues that the scholarly concept of religion is implicated in the history and practice of western statism and imperialism.
A second, more anthropologically-oriented approach is that of polythetic definitions. These definitions recognize that the essence of a class is not a single property but a number of properties, and that they can recognize just as many as the monothetic-set approach without being ethnocentric.
These two approaches have different goals, but they can be viewed as complementary. The first aims to understand the essence of a social class, while the second aims to understand how the same social class has evolved over time and how it can best be described.