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The Media Rituals: The Relationship between Media and Religion

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What is the relationship between religion and modern media? Are the media in essence anti-religion and a means to remove religion? Or are they a neutral means that can also be in the service of religion? Such questions fall under the category of the relationship between religion, modernization, and the nature of modernization, about which there can be found a rich literature in Iran.

As far as the relationship between religion and modernization is concerned, two related approaches can be followed: 1) an historical-sociological approach and 2) a philosophical approach. Under the influence of either approach one would face a spectrum of opinions which, on the one hand, lead to “technological dogmatism” and, on the other, lead to “instrumentalization”. To decide which of these opinions to accept depends upon our historical situation (our destiny) and our definition of dichotomous sides (religion and media), as well as on our historical-sociological and philosophical reasoning in this matter. This article deals with these points. Since the national media attempts to act upon the implications expected by modern media within the framework of moral criteria and religious recommendation, then we will turn to this fundamental question: How can religious matters be addressed in the public media, so as to be able to involve a passive audience that is supposedly not the addressee of the message, and turn him or her into an active audience? In this regard, taken from the media experiences both in Iran and around the world, first the characteristics of “religious media” will be offered. Then a pattern for media rituals will be introduced and experimentally (as a case study) studied through some examples in Iranian society, and next the need for a more exact planning will be tapped. Finally the necessary conditions to develop such rituals in the national media will be dealt with.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting; 2: Department of Sociology, University of Allameh Tabatabaie


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