• Kassandra Bruce Harder
4. semester, Kultur, kommunikation og globalisering, kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)

The amount of people who proclaim themselves as belonging to a Christian community is declining in the western world, and a growing number of people are today defining themselves as non-believers or non-denominational. This thesis concerns religious identity making and belonging in relation to how religious identity is being represented in appealing for a sense of belonging on social media platforms. Social media has become an integrated way of communicating in today’s society, not only for private use but also for sharing official statements and messages from Presidents, celebrities and religious leaders. This thesis will be thus be studying how the Catholic Church is trying to keep, retain and get new members into the Church through the official social media accounts of Pope Francis and Vatican News on Twitter and Instagram. The research is accordingly focused on the following research question: How is Catholic identity represented through the social media accounts of Pope Francis and the Vatican? And how are these representations used in appealing for a sense of belonging to the Catholic Church in their online followers?
The empirical data for this thesis has been collected on the social media platforms of Twitter and Instagram with a primary focus on the tweets and posts of the official accounts of Pope Francis and Vatican News. Due to the fact that all the data has been collected online, I have chosen to meet the data collection with a netnographical approach. In order to analyze the content of the tweets and posts, the methods of semiotics and discourse analysis will be applied in making a multimodal approach to the analysis. The research should thus reflect the wanted effects of the Catholic Church when posting a certain picture or writing a certain tweet in studying how these are helping in representing the Catholic identity and a sense of belonging.
The theoretical framework of the thesis will be based on identity and identity making as posed by Stuart Hall and James Mercia, the sense of belonging aspect as posed by Nira Yuval-Davis and the social media theory as posed by Nick Couldry and Tracy L. Tuten. These theoretical and methodological approaches will be used in the construction of the analysis.
The analysis of this thesis will be in three parts: 1) Twitter: A holy discourse,2) Instagram: Digital icons and representation of Catholic belonging and finally 3) Hashtags: Spreading the word. The first part is concerned with the discourse posed by the Pope and Vatican News on Twitter, whereas the second part is focused on the Catholic imagery posted on Instagram, and the final part will concentrate on the social media aspect of the distribution methods of the representations of Catholic identity and belonging. These parts will supplement each other with a specific focus on discourse in the first part, and semiotics in the second part, while multimodality will be applied through all three parts. These three parts of the analysis will be used in answering the problem formulation focused on how the Catholic Church is representing Catholic identity and using in appealing for a sense in belonging in online followers.
The study thus discovered that the Vatican News and Pope Francis work in concert in representing the Catholic identity. It was found that the Church used social media to represent their identity through a value laden religious discourse and images in trying to create a shared conceptual map in order to reach more positive connotations about the Church and thus create a sense of belonging. The study, concluded that the Church is presenting their conservative morals and doctrine in a positive way in representing the Catholic faith by arguing the belief in their divine authority and thus also represent the terms of belonging to the Catholic faith. It could be observed that the Church used these representations and hashtags in appealing for a sense of belonging and creating an online Catholic community where people can connect and identify through the tie that is the Catholic Church.
Udgivelsesdato25 maj 2018
Antal sider72
ID: 279814983