Symbol of the Cross in Popular Culture: an Analysis of the Use and Transformation of the Symbol in Machina Magazine
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University of Warsaw
Publication date: 2013-06-25
Polish Sociological Review 2013;182(2):209–222
The article focuses on the use and transformation of religious symbols in popular culture. The Polish pop culture magazine, Machina, was chosen as a case study. Popular culture, based strongly on visual communication, has fluid canons and is of an (auto)ironic nature. Symbols from different domains are transformed within this culture so that they fit its rules of communication. Religious symbols have been used extensively in Machina in a conventional, humorous and deriding manner. According to the results of the analysis, the use of religious symbols in popular culture is inevitably connected to the overlapping of religious communication and pop cultural communication, which creates a particular ambivalence of the meaning of the symbol. One should ask if resulting adaptations of religious symbols by popular culture might be considered to be a process of desacralisation. On the basis of the above-mentioned case study, one cannot give an unequivocal answer. Although pop cultural communication may lead to simplification and the deconstruction of symbols, one cannot claim it is de-symbolised as such. Desymbolisation and desacralisation are ongoing processes, but they are parallel to the process of creation and transformation of symbols as well. The research may be an inspiration for further analysis of the way religious symbols function within the realm of popular culture.