Religion, Media, and the Public Sphere

Meyer and Moors’ book examines the changing role of religion in light of its rising presence in the public sphere, compared with the recoiling of secularism (a shift in a direction contrary to popular notions of ‘modernity’), with a focus on the ways in which new forms of media are affecting religion and its propagation.

They are quick to dismiss the view that the growth of fundamentalism and increased public presence of religion comes from a ‘return of the repressed’-like desire to understand and control the world in the vacuum left by globalism, but they ignore completely the historical effects of the fall of socialism, which seems a far more likely candidate to have created the ‘vacuum’ in the public sphere that religion has been filling since the collapse of the USSR.

They are right to point out the ways in which media is being used by religious groups, but their assertion that ‘religions have been transformed’ by going public with the electronic medias, and that this now poses a threat to the ‘maintenance of religious authority’ seems exaggerated, and almost implies that religions were static until the invention of cassette-tapes.

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