Religion, Media, and the Marketplace

By Lynn Schofield Clark | Go to book overview

Afterword

STEWART M. HOOVER

Iveligion has always existed in relation to the marketplace. There is nothing new about this. What is new, and amply demonstrated by the contributions here, is the extent of religion's confrontation with the market and the evolving and expanding array of ways that the marketplace—particularly the media marketplace—is coming to determine and define the aspirations and possibilities for religion in late modernity. This confrontation has a history, and, as is shown here, this history is not one defined by sudden breaks and fissures so much as by gradual accommodation.

Conversations about religion and the marketplace usually begin with a set of received ideas about the seeming contradictions and potentials of further entanglement of the two. The preface and introduction detailed some of the most important of these, but there are a range of them. Some worry about the authenticity of religious practices or artifacts in the commodity marketplace. Others are concerned that religious ideas and symbols are necessarily diminished or limited by such mediation. As the introduction emphasized, many of these concerns are rooted in implicit hierarchies of cultural taste which see mediated and commodified representations as necessarily lesser forms. At the root of these reservations are worries about what might happen to religion, in both its universal and particular forms, when it submits itself to a media sphere—that religion might be permanently changed as a result.

This set of concerns constitutes the first of three general areas addressed by these chapters. Implicit in each of them is an address of the questions of authenticity, of the nature of religion as it adapts and is adapted to new forms and contexts of articulation. It is increasingly common among a subset of those who study contemporary religion to suggest that its commodification and mediation in late modernity should be seen as natural

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