Media, Religion and Identity in Multicultural Britain
This research will look at how the media in Britain deal with the chal lenge of representing diverse religious belief. In this thesis the focus will be on the institutional context of how religious ideologies are mediatized in broadcasting and print journalism. It will critically examine how spe cific groups benefit from the discourse created. The work will address the lack of enquiry made by media scholars into how pluralism shapes media practices and content. Altogether, the research adds to the public discourse on the future of multiculturalism.
It was widely believed by theorists that as society progressed scientifi cally and technologically, religion would become obsolete. However, the notion of a fully secularized society has itself been superseded by an acceptance that the way in which religion is practiced has evolved. Reli gious belief, a key source of shared values and identity, is becoming increasingly individualistic for the silent majority and increasingly politi cized and fundamental for a vocal minority. This re-emergence of relig ion as a powerful social force cannot be understood without looking at the role of the media and how it shapes the current debates.
A series of case studies and interviews will be used to analyze the dis course and frame the current problems of editors, journalists and broad casters in negotiating the tensions that exist between the conflicting reli gious ideologies. Cases such as the global controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad, the screening of Jerry Springer Opera, which satirizes Jesus and the reaction of reli gious institutions to the success of the Da Vinci Code, will be considered for inclusion. In each of these cases the media became both an actor and an arena in which the debates took place. The research will look at how the national media in Britain deal with such stories of a religious nature and question their approach to these stories. It will examine how issues are contextualized within the wider debate on multiculturalism; trace the origins of the information and opinion used and question editorial staff on their views on the future coverage of religious pluralism in the media. Any differences in approach between broadcasting and print towards framing the story will also be highlighted. Analysis of the cases and the interviews will then allow the researcher to discuss how the under standing of British identity is evolving and what role the media have in shaping this.