Religion and Mass Media: Audiences and Adaptations

Article excerpt

Religion and Mass Media: Audiences and Adaptations. Daniel A. Stout and Judith M. Buddenbaum, eds., Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1996. $22.95 paper; $48.00 cloth.

Religion and Mass Media are two extremely influential dimensions of popular culture. Unfortunately, mass communications researchers often lack an accurate sense of religiosity and religious folks often have a jaundiced view of the media. Consequently, dialogue about the interrelationship of religion and mass media, all too often, has been heated, but not well informed. It is important to ask how religious people interact with the mass media. That is precisely what this book sets out to do.

By relating sociology of religion and mass communications research, this book may be pioneering new ground, but the editors have pulled together a team of experienced explorers. There are sixteen contributors, coming together from a broad range of locations on the religious and media studies spectra. Religious traditions represented are Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, Quaker, Mennonite, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Mormon and Black churches. The writers from these traditions employ a wide variety of social science research methods.

Do the media trivialize, perhaps even undermine religion? Do religious people appreciate and take advantage of the provision of news and entertainment by the mass media? Such questions may be debated with considerable zeal, but not always according to knowledge. There are typically many unexamined assumptions and considerable conjecture in discussions or arguments about such matters. …