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Mediatizing Secular State

Media, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Poland


Damian Guzek

The book provides an empirically based analysis of changes on how various political and denominational actors seek to influence the Church and state relationship, as well as how we understand the idea of the secular state. A set of case studies shows how and why changes in the coverage of the secular state and Church-state relations have followed the dynamics of media logic. By establishing a grounded theory based on media content, legal regulations and political party programs in the years 1989–2015 as well as a current survey, the author throws new light on the theory of mediatization. The book demonstrates that the disseminated idea of the secular state is largely a result of the adaptation of both political and religious representatives to a dynamically changing media logic.

 "The book is the first study of this kind showing the Polish perspective. It is an interesting and important source of information for those who want to trace the media picture of relations between the Polish state and the institution of the Roman Catholic Church, representing the largest religious community in Poland."

Professor Dorota Piontek, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

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5 Covering the secular and Church-state relationship


Let’s start the reflection on the mediatization of the idea of a secular state based on the analyzed media. We will now consider the media coverage of the secular state and the Church-state relationship in the years 1989–2015. We can treat the results of this content analysis as a reference point for the later applied grounded theory. The primary sources of this analysis are taken from two newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita, and the public television information Wiadomości TVP service. Although today the media remain hybrid (Chadwick, 2013), in the last 25 years, the source of knowledge about the secular state primarily referred to traditional media, including television and the press. Their contents, therefore, provide significant intuition in understanding the discussed issue.

In 1989, Poland entered the path of systemic changes. The legal and political situation concerning the nation’s Church-state relations was characterized by separating the Church from public life. The Church adapted to the unfavorable conditions of the communist regime, and could hardly have dreamed possible what was actually happening. As a result of the contractual election on June 4, 1989, a practicing Catholic who represented the interests of the opposition became the prime minister. There immediately appeared demands for shaping religious issues based on cooperation and even compensation for the harm suffered by the Church. The early years of political transformation brought a new kind of challenge for relations between the Church and state. The developed idea of the secular state and...

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