I wanted to inform you about my new study. Collaborating with my postdoc, Dr. Michele Martini, we have reviewed Pope Francis' Instagram account and have a new publication in Information, Communication and society. Below, I am attaching the paper's abstract.
The Making of Contemporary Papacy:
Manufactured Charisma and Instagram
Oren Golan and Michele Martini
University of Haifa
Abstract: Recent research highlights the growth of alternative religious leadership on a global scale. In response, social media have emerged as platforms to compete for religious primacy. Accordingly, the study asks how is online religious authority constructed, re-affirmed and implemented by religious organizations? We contend that through online means, religious organizations are nowadays working to construct a public image to spark charismatic attraction towards institutional leaders. To investigate, we developed a grounded study that captured the full Instagram production of Pope Francis’ official account (429 images). Drawing on construal theory, findings demonstrated the strategic management of social, spatial, affective and hypothetical distance, simultaneously corresponding with uncovered facets: hierarchical positioning; geographical locales, haptic engagement, and leaders’ visual focus. Thus, we suggest introducing a concept of image-mediated-charisma, and its theoretical framing through digital distance. Concepts that were observed in the religious realm yet can be extended and applied to political or cultural leaders.
|Screenshot of Pope Francis’s Instagram profile stats. Retrieved on January 16, 2018|