Research Methods for the study of religion

An online training resource

Researching media and religion

Media play a central role in the lives of religious individuals, institutions and movements, and public media have become a key site for religious debates and conflicts. Understanding how we might study the role and significance of media is therefore an important task for research on religion, and opens up the possibility of approaches which break down artificial distinctions between religion and media (i.e. theories of religious mediation).

Liesbet van Zoonen identifies four different approaches to researching media and religion, including key studies and methodological approaches associated with each.


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Key Reading

Arthur Asa Berger (2011) Media and Communication Research Methods: An Introduction to Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. 2nd edition. London: Sage.

This major textbook for media research covers a range of widely used methods including content analysis, surveys, historical analysis, different methods of textual analysis and participant observation.

(ed.) David Morgan (2008) Keywords in Religion, Media and Culture. London: Routledge.

(eds.) Gordon Lynch, Jolyon Mitchell and Anna Strhan (2012) Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. London: Routledge.

These two books provide a good overview of key concepts informing the question and design of studies in media and religion.

Note there is also a range of more specialised literature on conducting research on the internet and other new media. The current pace of technological change is such that whilst some key texts in this area remain useful, they also struggle to keep up with the emerging technologies and uses of such digital media. To keep in touch with current developments in this area, use the links in the online resources section of this page.


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Last Updated: 13/09/2012