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Abstract

This essay describes the emerging field of religion and media and outlines key issues at play in the field. The field focuses both on the media and their content and on the reception of media among various publics as ways to examine the location of religion, the nature of religious practice and the complexity of religious identity and authority. On the one hand, studies reveal how religious institutions and leaders use traditional and new media, and command of emerging media grants some institutions and leaders increased voice and authority. On the other, we find evidence that in the emerging media culture, authority shifts from traditional locations such as sacred writings, traditions and religious authorities to the individual internal authority of religious consumers involved in religious self-construction. Those in the field typically argue that religion has always been mediated and that studying the mediation of religion is necessary to the understanding of religion.