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Journalism and Religion: Critical Terms in Public Discourse (1/2)

A086
Panel Chairs: Xenia Zeiler, Kerstin Radde-Antweiler | Monday, August 24, 1:30-3 p.m.

Academic concepts and terms concerning religion, so-called critical terms, are dynamically applied in public journalistic discussions and contexts. To demonstrate and discuss their public and journalistic use, comprehension, and development, this panel analyzes four case studies. To integrate a broad and comparative perspective, each term will be discussed on three levels, contrasting (1) emic and etic use, (2) different media genres, and (3) European and non-European discourses. After a short presentation of the concept of the two combined panels this panel analyzes the critical terms authority and community, linking each term to different case studies. The first case study on authority is discussing the case of the papal election 2013 in Europe and East Asia. Community as term is analyzed in a case study on Evangelical print publications as a forum for community-building in the 1970s, and on community-building at Christian interactive webpages.

Kerstin Radde-Antweiler

#Tagleforpope. The Papal Election as a Marker for Shifting Authority Constructions

In the last years, the Catholic Church has been increasingly addressed in various journalistic media worldwide. The papal election brought about heated discussions on the possible successor of Pope Benedict XVI. Especially in so-called Third World countries the press discussed the capability and efficiency of a Pope from countries with a growing catholic population as the new religious authority. An example was the Philippine archbishop Tagle who was considered as an example for a “fresh”, “young” and “authentic” new leading figure. Dichotomies such as the “old European authority structure” with decreasing memberships versus “the authentic and charismatic leadership” in African or Asian countries were stressed – in European as well as in the Non-European press coverage. So the question arises: Can we observe a changing authority in the Catholic Church, as press coverage as well as millions of websites, twitter contributions etc. suggested? And who is responsible for such a change: the journalistic media?

Anna Neumaier

Community-Building at Christian Interactive Web Pages: Strategies, Outcomes and the Users’ Perceptions

Much has been written about online communities, often with a critical or skeptical attitude. In this paper, I will present some empirical findings about the emergence and perception of communities on Christian web pages. Based on research on religious websites from the German-speaking area, two different perspectives and kinds of data are considered: First, the news sections of those websites are explored, asking for possibilities and strategies of community-building in these journalistic works. Second, the users’ perspectives on and perceptions of community online are taken into account: Drawing from qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey, findings regarding the relevance of religious online communities for Internet use as well as the modes of their realization will be presented. While it can be shown that online contexts have a particular potential for community-building, at the same time quite different kinds of communities take shape, ranging from traditional, parish-like types to the postmodern forms of translocal and fluid communities.

Anja-Maria Bassimir

Evangelical Print Publications as a Forum for Community-Building in the 1970s

Early accounts of the reemergence of Evangelicalism often portrayed the movement as a monolithic bloc, while newer studies stressed the internal diversity and sometimes focused on one subgroup to the point of divorcing it from the larger movement. Neither approach does justice to the movement as a whole. Evangelicalism, indeed, is a puzzling phenomenon: Evangelicals can be found across a wide spectrum of Protestant denominations, non-denominational congregations, and para-church organizations. And yet, they are regarded as a uniform group and also try to represent themselves as a coherent community. Evangelical scholar George Marsden coined the term “card-carrying evangelicals” for those who choose “evangelical” as their primary identity over denominational lines. How, then, is it possible for diverse people to conceive of themselves as a community? During the 1970s, a vibrant Evangelical book and periodical market existed that was used by religious entrepreneurs as a forum and repository for their community-building activities. I argue that print-publications were one arena where Evangelicals struggled to define and prescribe what it meant to be evangelical.

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