Research Group for Communication and Media Studies

With the developments of modern social sciences emerged a theory that was subsequently considered self-evident: that by virtue of the internal logic of modernisation, the process goes hand in hand with secularisation, or rather, with religion’s increasing loss of significance. The theory of secularisation is commonly referred to as a thesis or proposition, because from Max Weber and Émile Durkheim onwards for about one hundred years nobody has taken the trouble to work it out in detail, and so it has not been raised to the rank of theory. Despite that, throughout the 20th century it was considered a fundamental conviction among authoritative social scientists that religion would disappear by the turn of the century, or at least become “invisible” (Thomas Luckmann) within modern societies. This conviction has lost plausibility in the course of the last years, to the extent that those highlighting the relation between modernisation and secularisation are now “in the minority, and in the field of social sciences the dominance of the secularization proposition has been replaced by the hegemony of its rejection” (Hans Joas). The question is not whether the decrease in popularity of religion or more specifically Christianity is being universally disputed; but whether the process could only develop in one way, how far the process could actually spread, whether it could be turned back and what the nature of the effect on public debate would be. The goal of this research group is to deliberate over and resolve these questions.

The research group has undertaken and continues to undertake the study of this new constellation from four angles:

  • Social theoretical, philosophy-of-religion and religious sociological reflections on the connection between religion and public since the turn of the century (Steve Bruce, Detlef Pollack, David Martin, Hans Joas, Richard Schaeffler, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Johann Baptist Metz);
  • The shaking of faith in the self-establishing faculty of public rationality, the development of the concept of post-secularity (Jürgen Habermas), the concept of subject, its changes and experiments in its rehabilitation (Dieter Henrich), perspectives of the theories of the modern age and modernity regarding secularism (Hans Blumenberg), and the history of ideas (Wolfhart Pannenberg).
  • Connections between religion and the mass media on a European and global scale (continuation of the path of research and interpretation begun by Stewart Hoover, with East-Central European specializations);
  • The representation of religion, especially Christianity in modern cultural and mediatised (journalism, television, film etc.) communication (in collaboration with colleagues working in numerous foreign universities: e.g. the universities of Bratislava, Prague, and Eichstätt).