Special Issue "Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. David Herbert
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Criminology and Sociology, Kingston University, Thames KT1 2EE, UK
Interests: sociology, media studies and religious studies; religion and conflict; digital/urban interfaces; migration and integration.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to ask if you would be interested in contributing to a special issue of the journal Religions on ‘Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective’.

The special issue seeks to address the question of how changes in media communications in the 21st century have impacted on religion, with what social and political consequences, asking whether any general trends can be identified at a global scale, and if so, whether any underlying mechanisms can also be discerned which can help to make sense of these developments. In particular, it will revisit mediatisation theory (Hjarvard, 2009) and republicisation theory (Herbert, 2011) through a series of case studies and theoretical and comparative articles. It is intended that case studies will be drawn from diverse settings, including, as currently envisaged, Singapore, Israel, India, the United States, Ghana, Italy and Scandinavia (where thought on mediatisation of religion has been largely developed). 

Contribution to Existing Debate/Literature

In his account of the mediatisation of religion, Hjarvard argues that the dominant role of media institutions in late modern societies means that media increasingly usurp the role of religious institutions in communicating knowledge about religion, and that the latter must accommodate to the norms and forms of media genres if they wish to engage with the public. Hjarvard sees mediatisation as going hand in hand with secularisation, for example:

“the mediatization of religion … is changing the representation of religion in late modernity at the same
time that secularization … is evoking both a decline and a transformation of religious organizations, practices and beliefs” (2011, 22).

The effect of both processes is a tendency is towards a decline in public, shared religious meanings, and towards a privatisation of religious belief. Critics, such are Meyer, have argued that while media do have a powerful structuring effect on how religious institutions communicate, this does not necessarily serve to undermine religion’s social significance. Others have focused on how digital media increasingly allow audiences to become ‘users’, and re-shape religious ‘content’ to imagine themselves and their relation to the world in new ways, defining mediatisation as:

“…the process by which collective uses of communication media extend the development of independent media industries and their circulation of narratives, contribute to new forms of action and interaction in the
social world and give shape to how we think of humanity and our place in the world”.1

The process here, as with Hepp’s ‘cultures of mediatisation’ approach, is a dialectical one in which the relationship between media and audience/user in a given social context is a dynamic one in which outcomes are uncertain, rather than tending to towards a marginalisation of religion or its retreat into a private realm. However, in the cases discussed by Clark and Hepp the outcome would appear to be multiplication of religious narratives and meanings and weakening of religious institutions’ capacity to regulate these meanings, even if, as in the event discussed by Hepp, they remain strongly involved in their mediation. Thus, while the secularising tendency proposed by Hjarvard is rejected, the outcomes observed seem broadly in line with a process of individualisation or personalisation and a weakening of collective, institutionally sanctioned religious meanings; as Lövheim comments:

"media augments certain processes of religious change – in particular a re-construction of tradition and a personalisation of religiosity".    

In contrast, in his account of religious publicization and drawing principally on evidence from India and Egypt, Herbert contends that in some cases the same processes of media penetration of the lifeworld serve not only to re-invigorate networks of personalised belief, but also make religious symbols and discourses powerfully available for political purposes, for use by both religious and secular authorities and opposition movements, as well as by commercial actors.

Clearly, the intended scope of validity claims about theories of media shaping matters, and Hjarvard is clear that he intends his theory was developed for Western contexts, and especially Northern Europe, and claims no wider validity, while Meyer and Herbert situate their claims about religion and media in a broader, indeed global comparative context. However, given the increasingly global penetration of media technologies and systems, even at a time of resurgent nationalisms, it does seem opportune to raise the question of how changes in media communications in the 21st century are impacting on religion at a global scale, of what shapes outcomes at different scales (global, regional, national, communal etc), with what social and political consequences, and any underlying mechanisms can be discerned which can help to make sense of these developments. It is in these ways that the special issue is intended to take debate forward.

Prof. David Herbert
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mediatisation
  • globalisation
  • secularisation
  • politicisation, publicization.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
“When You Live Here, That’s What You Get”: Other-, Ex-, and Non-Religious Outsiders in the Norwegian Bible Belt
Religions 2019, 10(11), 611; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110611 - 04 Nov 2019
Abstract
This article presents data from our investigations in Kristiansand, the largest city in Southern Norway, an area sometimes called Norway’s ‘Bible belt’. We investigate how social media is reshaping social relations in the city, looking especially at how social order is generated, reinforced, [...] Read more.
This article presents data from our investigations in Kristiansand, the largest city in Southern Norway, an area sometimes called Norway’s ‘Bible belt’. We investigate how social media is reshaping social relations in the city, looking especially at how social order is generated, reinforced, and challenged on social media platforms. Drawing on the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias, as well as findings from research conducted among Muslim immigrants in Scandinavian cities and their response to what they perceive as the dominant media frame, we focus this article on a less visible group of outsiders in the local social figuration: young ex- and non-religious persons. The mediated and enacted performances of this loosely defined group and their interactions with more influential others provide a case study in how non-religious identities and networked communities are construed not (only) based on explicit rejection of religion but also in negotiation with a social order that happens to carry locally specific ‘religious’ overtones. With respect to the mediatization of religion we extend empirical investigation of the theory to social media, arguing that what while religious content is shaped by social media forms, in cases where religious identifiers already convey prestige in local social networks, social media may increase the influence of these networks, thus deepening processes of social inclusion for those in dominant groups and the exclusion of outsiders. In this way, platforms which are in principle open and in practice provide space for minorities to self-organise, also routinely reinforce existing power relations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective)
Open AccessArticle
“He died as he lived”: Biopolitical Mediatization in the Death of David Goodall
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Religions 2019, 10(10), 566; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100566 - 02 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article explores the nexus of biopolitics, mediatization and secularization, drawing out their relationship as it pertains to matters of assisted dying and euthanasia. In particular, it examines the dynamics of the media coverage of a highly-publicized case of euthanasia, namely, that of [...] Read more.
This article explores the nexus of biopolitics, mediatization and secularization, drawing out their relationship as it pertains to matters of assisted dying and euthanasia. In particular, it examines the dynamics of the media coverage of a highly-publicized case of euthanasia, namely, that of scientist David Goodall, based in Perth, Australia, who flew to Switzerland in May 2018 to end his own life at the age of 104. Focusing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s coverage, the article keys in on the theme of embodiment, discussing it within recent developments in social theory on the “secular body” and pain, suggesting that the mediatization of his death facilitated and structured an “environment” for staging and negotiating issues of biopolitical import. It then contextualizes this analysis within broader discussions on biopolitics and secularity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective)
Open AccessArticle
Mediatized Catholicism—Minority Voices and Religious Authority in the Digital Sphere
Religions 2019, 10(8), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080463 - 03 Aug 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Over the last decade, many scholars have explored the thesis of the mediatization of religion proposed by Hjarvard and how mediatization has impacted religious authority. While some scholars have underlined the increasing opportunities for marginalized religious actors to make their voices heard, others [...] Read more.
Over the last decade, many scholars have explored the thesis of the mediatization of religion proposed by Hjarvard and how mediatization has impacted religious authority. While some scholars have underlined the increasing opportunities for marginalized religious actors to make their voices heard, others have explored how mediatization can also result in the enhancement of traditional religious authority or change the logic of religious authority. Against this background, in this paper, I focus on Christian LGBT+ digital voices in Italy to explore how they discursively engage with the official religious authority of the Catholic Church. The analysis adopts Campbell typology of religious authority. It highlights the complex balance between challenging and reaffirming traditional religious authority, and points out the role of the type of digital community in exploring the effects of the mediatization of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Mediatizing the Holy Community—Ultra-Orthodoxy Negotiation and Presentation on Public Social-Media
Religions 2019, 10(7), 438; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070438 - 17 Jul 2019
Abstract
In recent years, media theorists stress macroscopic relations between digital communications and religion, through the framing of mediatization theory. In these discussions, media is conceptualized as a social institution, which influences religious establishments and discourse. Mediatization scholars have emphasized the transmission of meanings [...] Read more.
In recent years, media theorists stress macroscopic relations between digital communications and religion, through the framing of mediatization theory. In these discussions, media is conceptualized as a social institution, which influences religious establishments and discourse. Mediatization scholars have emphasized the transmission of meanings and outreach to individuals, and the religious-social shaping of technology. Less attention has been devoted to the mediatization of the religious community and identity. Accordingly, we asked how members of bounded religious communities negotiate and perform their identity via public social media. This study focuses on public performances of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, rhetorically and symbolically expressed in groups operating over WhatsApp, a mobile instant messaging and social media platform. While a systematic study of instant messaging has yet to be conducted on insular-religious communities, this study draws upon an extensive exploration of over 2000 posts and 20 interviews conducted between 2016–2019. The findings uncover how, through mediatization, members work towards reconstructing the holy community online, yet renegotiate enclave boundaries. The findings illuminate a democratizing impact of mediatization as growing masses of ultra-Orthodox participants are given a voice, restructure power relations and modify fundamentalist proclivities towards this-worldly activity, to influence society beyond the enclave’s online and offline boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective)
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