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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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Conclusion: Church-state issues seen through the prism of the mediatization theory


“Through history, human beings have used prayer and sacrifice to lay their concerns before their gods. Messages have come from the divine, or been presumed to come by way of oracles and written texts. Once received, those messages were passed down to others. In the West, more than elsewhere, it became religiously obligatory to communicate God’s messages to a wider public. Unlike the religions of antiquity from which they emerged, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam made religious knowledge inseparable from religious observance” (Silk, 1995, pp. 3–4).

“In response, we added a third strand, the ‘secular sacred’ (with its attendant categories and subcategories), in order to reflect changes in the ideological, philosophical, ritual and experiential landscape, and to recognize that there is much that is valued in the lives of non-religious people and in the secular sphere that is powerfully significant and meaningful, deeply-held and non-negotiable, as well as a source of personal and social identity” (Knott et al., 2013b: 176).

This paradoxical juxtaposition of two very different fragments of work on the subject of media and secularity fundamentally reflects the content of this book. We are moving about in the area of massively distributed topics about God and religion when touching upon the public side of religion. We also point to its mediatization. At the same time, we realize that secularity is hidden somewhere in the nooks and crannies of this analysis, as a value with a clear and rich meaning. In this final...

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