Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_16-1
# Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Cultural Industry
Vanina Papalini*
Center for Investigation and Study of Culture and Society, National Council for Scientific and Technical Research, Córdoba,
Córdoba, Argentina

Cultural industries; Mass media; Electronic churches; Exhibition of intimacy; Therapeutic culture;

The expansion of Christian religions such as the Pentecostal, Adventist, and Baptist churches in Latin
America has profited not only mass media but also a vertically integrated network of cultural industries, to
facilitate the propagation of faith. Belief and adhesion become partially independent from presence. This
modality of communicating religion through mass media has enabled the introduction of the universe of
New Age beliefs. The New Age cultivates its relationship with cultural industries; given that it lacks
structural, institutional devices for its propagation, the extension of its beliefs is carried out through a
generic dissemination movement that the media amplifies.

Religions have used, since ancient times, different technical methods to disseminate themselves. In the
Western world, the printing press could be considered one of the oldest. These media have served to
propagate faith, as an extension of missionary work, and to consolidate adhesion to religious beliefs. With
the emergence of mass media, this divulgation takes on an impersonal appearance. Although the relation
with an anonymous parish does not replace the liturgy and the rituals that make up a religious community,
mass media allow the message to have a broader reception, compete with programs with commercial
content, and reach those who do not participate in rites in person.
The relation between the media and religions is well known in Latin America. The expansion of some
Christian churches such as the Pentecostal, Adventist, and Baptist churches had interaction with the media
as one of its keys, through radio and TV programs, as well as its own music production and publishing.
This strategy has been key to their expansion, so much so that they have been given the name “electronic
churches.” Not only mass media but also a complete and vertically integrated network of cultural
industries, which range from audiovisual production to retail stores, facilitate the propagation of faith.
Belief and adhesion become partially independent of presence, to the extreme of proposing healings from
television or radio programs to their audiences, ignoring the electronic medium.
This antecedent of taking advantage of a communication device, which mediates between collective
and individual religious experiences, cultivates religious intimacy, allows for uncoupling faith from
territorial confessional practices, and tends to create globalized networks of believers. At the same
time, religious identity results from a personal construction liberated from institutional regulations and
*Email: vaninapapalini@gmail.com
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a new paradigm shift is observed in the social discourses in circulation that reinforces the enthronement of the individual. genres. Knowing the taste and needs of the public and responding to their expectations so that production is disseminated and commercialized assumes that cultural industries act like radars alert to the inclinations of their consumers. and these gain importance in public preference. p. The renovation of formats.Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions DOI 10. and interest in well-being understood holistically. In cultural industries. and delocalized credos are elements that are better expressed in the New Age than in any other religion (Torre and Gutiérrez Zúñiga 2013). pp. On the other hand. which are reflected in the makeup of common sense. But at the same time. “The religious universe constructed by the media allows for the displacement of the sacred space toward the intimacy of individuals and gives rise to a very personal elaboration of one’s world of meaning” (2012. The conformation of religious communities in the form of networks or groups linked by a communication device adapts itself to the form that the medium demands: they are constituted as audiences. at the same time as the use of notions such as harmony. and journalists recreate themselves as spiritual advisers and guides. which in media formats manifests itself as a proliferation of first-person stories and a prominent presence of narratives from everyday life. for example. the production of fantastic tales is renewed. The discursive transformations observed indicate a change in sensibilities. the unnecessariness of the institution. The proliferation of first-person stories and the prominent presence of narratives of everyday life. on the other hand the re-enchanting of narratives. 54–57). beliefs.” while hosts. and segments and columns with specialists aimed at explaining emotions and making interpersonal relationships understandable are introduced. themes. such as talk shows and reality shows. the landscape of social representations is transforming: the culture of the 1990s reveals processes of respiritualization. and social representations of a culture or community. The back-and-forth and interaction between the field of religion and communication devices become more frequent. immaterial dimension with interference in the outcome of events. the sale of self-help books increases. the insistent use of the testimonial resource. The modality of communicating religion through mass media has facilitated the introduction of the universe of New Age beliefs. and beliefs in cultural production is echoed in sociocultural transformations in the making: the action of cultural industries both externalizes and feeds back into these changes. which does not imply participating in communities (Reyna Ruiz 2012. and eclectic. personalized. Almost naturally. Authenticity and the Exhibition of Intimacy In the 1990s. both fiction and nonfiction.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_16-1 # Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015 disperses spatially. growth in the importance of emotions. Psychological and metaphysical justifications nourish arguments in debates. which assume the existence of an invisible. So. and formats appear. they are merchandise that circulates according to market laws. well-being. Both processes. new products. The return of the self. 56). manifest themselves in the production of cultural industries. Cultural goods possess a symbolic efficacy that influences the lifestyles. amalgamates with a new cultural period dedicated to the subjective dimension with special interest in personal expression and everyday life. Toward the end of the twenty-first century. a cultural process of re-enchantment of the world becomes visible: a narrative of transcendence in spiritualist language is consolidated. Worship of the direct relation with divinity. programs with interviews with relevant personalities report “conversions. and the elevation to public space of the biographies of personalities with no outstanding attributes express a social sensibility inclined to Page 2 of 5 . announcers. As Reyna Ruiz says. the social discourses in circulation show the double path experienced by the cultural paradigm: on the one hand a turn toward subjectivity (Arfuch 2002). and in ways of understanding the world. in collective worries. and energy is naturalized.

is moving. interviews. in magazines. in the language of the media. The “realistic” image typical of the media creates “effects of truth” (Verón 1998). psychological ills. Emotional and Spiritual Therapies on the Media Stage The practices and explanations aimed at achieving psychophysical well-being and better quality of life are on the cultural industries’ agenda. and New Age beliefs and thought that are aimed at taking care of oneself (Papalini 2013). This ostensible incorporation of psychological and therapeutic themes in cultural space reinforces the presence of what is called “therapeutic culture” (Illouz 2008) or “psy culture” (Rose 1989). the media. Thanks to this means of personification. more than anything. the preachings of a singular and “made-to-measure” religiosity converge spontaneously with the sensibility promoted by cultural industries. Traditional columns of specialists and experts on the radio. and personal affective history. In significant materials and.Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions DOI 10. this phenomenon refers to the extension and vulgarization of knowledge. numerous articles or periodical programs deal with social phobias and panic attacks. and on television incorporate subjective issues: emotions and interpersonal relationships. in newspapers. traditional medicine. and the network of circulation of information on the web strengthen the extension of therapeutic culture: in any magazine or newspaper insert there appear tests that allow for a simple self-diagnosis and an outline of personality profiles. biography. In this discursive context. Even cinema and the arts speak of a turn toward the interior. In terms of the system of mass media. The modality of media representation collaborates in the creation of affinities and adhesions. Cultural industries. Even scientific information used in publicity strategies forms part of this tendency. as well as from a wide variety of alternative and complementary therapies. among other issues. a personal stamp is the necessary counterweight to the serialized grammars of production. Subjectivity is introduced to the public stage by the display of personal and domestic problems on talk shows. and communication. brings back human flesh and blood to the standardized genres and formats of mass media. making the story more concrete. health understood holistically. and triggers identification processes with a strong emotional investment. There is a common root shared by biographical and intimate media genres and the culture inspired by the New Age: both cases are about the expression of the self in its authenticity. It is the language of experience. couples. techniques. as well as by the transparency of life itself in reality shows and the display of intimacy in conversational formats. Personal spiritual experience enters into this narrative style and in this way is able to distance itself from the spectacularization effect typical of large religious events. calls from the audience. and bringing the protagonist closer. a meticulous scrutinization of subjectivity. For its part. well-being. interviews by a mobile team of journalists at the scene of an Page 3 of 5 . empathy. The appearance of common people. instead of personalities trained in the world of the spectacle. or instant messages transmitted publicly online fulfill the classic slogan of giving roots to events. and resources of subjective support that are immediately available in society and that are accessed without the intervention of experts. Personal accounts. confessions. The situations described tend to produce compassion. the receiver feels individually reflected in the other’s experience. the publishing industry registers successful sales of self-help books. on radio and television testimonies and examples of people who have recovered from obesity proliferate.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_16-1 # Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015 instances of rapid identification and emotional mobilization. and strong effects of truth. showing its emotions and revaluing everyday narratives. Therapeutic culture is based on popularized notions from distinct types of psychology and neuroscience. with exponential growth in the publication of new titles and new editions of older titles. The presence of psychologists becomes frequent in mass media.

Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions DOI 10. the Argentine Jorge Bucay. as well as web pages with links to the varied religious cultural production. it filters into the stories of personalities of the cultural industry. symbolic goods produced by cultural industries have adopted the rules of the traditional serial production modality. it is utilized in numerous support materials: calendars. or the columns of Armando Alducin Fletcher. depending on nationality. In the majority of these cases. The Venezuelan Conny Mendez (Juana Maria de la Concepcion Mendez Guzman) or the Argentine Ludovica Squirru Dari combine art and spirituality. Acting as guests in traditional media spaces. the interweaving of cultural industries and consumer logics is less developed and of smaller scale. and the Venezuelans Vladimir and Maria Mercedes Gessen are some of the well-known specialists. they tell of their conversions. or workshops for a public that is generally confined within national borders. their life changes. the Puerto Rican Alessandra Rampolla. Its exposition is more surreptitious. Following the same logic. There are also presences directly linked to religion. Page 4 of 5 . converting themselves into guides and advisers. books. videos. are examples of this relationship between churches and the media. In contrast. although in both cases their involvement in religiosity and the lifestyle they lead distance them from the stage. or variants that allow for greater diversification of the product. Integrated Symbolic Merchandise In their function as global merchandise. e-books. Once its success is verified. The connections of the New Age with artists can be even more direct: in continuity with its counterculture origins. merchandise. Two simultaneous movements are observed: media personalities who turn to spiritual deepening. The way in which each cultural product takes advantage of the creative nucleus – arguments and characters. more than their opinions. the Mexican Estela Duran Mena. The program “Escola de Amor” (School of Love) of the Universal Church. can reach the Latin American community residing in the United States or Spain. the extension of its beliefs is carried out through a generic dissemination movement that the media amplifies. fundamentally – is varied and intense. and audio books are produced. transmitted on R7 TV. The majority of these experts are inclined to a holistic consideration of the subject but without adhering to a defined religion or credo. especially with reference to the production of goods. aimed less at the dissemination of precepts. commentators. very rarely do these personalities become transnational successes. or the opposite. Given that its accent is on personal experience. In the case of Latin American countries. Their possibility for expansion. the niches that products are aimed at diversify equally: adolescents. conferences. like Paulo Coelho. web pages. writes books. where esotericism also abounds. indebted to the style of the “electronic churches” of the 1970s and 1980s. families. there is a back-andforth between the religious and the therapeutic media space and the editorial market: the same person hosts a television program. attending to the needs of different market segments. executives. the task of dissemination is complemented by personal interaction and the distribution of pamphlets. and gives seminars. the testimonial story is the most appropriate mode of transmission and well-known personalities the best representatives. etc. given that it lacks structural. Brazil. and the possibility of trauma is analyzed by an expert on the ground. regarding the event. directs a magazine. The Chilean Maria del Pilar Sordo Martinez. it has a strong reception in the world of art. video games. linked to growing spirituality. of Mexico. Although there are exceptional cases. spiritual leaders who have moved from the religious world to media spaces.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_16-1 # Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015 accident express their feelings. The New Age cultivates its relationship with cultural industries. movies. institutional devices for its propagation. The New Age reaches the media using a different rhetoric. and hosts that move in the spaces of cultural industry and Latin American web videos.

Gedisa. by the Chilean Enrique Barrios. Cross-References ▶ Complementary and Alternative Medicines ▶ Counterculture ▶ Energy ▶ Individualization ▶ New Age ▶ New Age Books ▶ New Age Consumption ▶ New Age Imagery ▶ Psychology and New Age ▶ Self Help Industry ▶ Spirituality References Arfuch L (2002) El espacio biográfico. México. A little bit closer to science fiction and in a style reminiscent of The Little Prince. pp 13–21 Illouz E (2008) Saving the modern soul. Berkeley/Los Angeles Papalini V (2013) Recetas para sobrevivir a las exigencias del capitalismo (o de cómo la autoayuda se volvió parte de nuestro sentido común). el niño de las estrellas. Errepar. Gutiérrez Zúñiga C (2013) Introducción. the series Ami. Rio de Janeiro De la Torre R. there are others that fit in a similar narrative space. University of California Press. such as El Libro de Dios Amor (The Book of the God of Love). especially the best seller The Alchemist (Coelho 1988/1990).) Variaciones y apropiaciones latinoamericanas del New Age. initially titled Mensaje Acuariano (The Aquarian Message) (1991). Buenos Aires Barrios E (1986) Ami. Child of the Stars (1986). in the form of allegorical novels. Fondo de Cultura Económica. In addition to typical self-help books. These books are read in search of guidance and inspiration. Free Association Books. This kind of hybrid literature shows the generalization of New Age notions. México Rose N (1989) Governing the soul. by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 1st edn. London Verón E (1998) La semiosis social. Gutiérrez Zúñiga C. Paulo Coelho fits in this segment. texts that. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco. Santiago Barrios E (1991) Mensaje Acuariano. Ediciones Acuarianas. Barcelona Page 5 of 5 . Nueva Sociedad 245:163–177 Reyna Ruiz AM (2012) Las frecuencias de Dios: programas con contenido religioso en la radio del Valle de México.Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions DOI 10. He has also written books for adults. evoke values that collaborate in facing problems. Buenos Aires Coelho P (1988/1990) O alquimista. Editora Rocco. Juárez Huet N (coord. In: De la Torre R. which expand and circulate widely in the discourses of Latin American cultural industries. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. provides direction in New Age inspired values to a child and teen audience.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_16-1 # Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015 Latin American Novels The production of spiritually oriented literature by Latin American authors is elevated and occupies a notable spot in the rankings of best sellers in each country.