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‘Not a museum piece’: Exploring the ‘special’ occupational culture of religious broadcasting in Britain

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Religion is often regarded as posing a distinct challenge to the occupational norms of cultural production and journalism due to its subjectivities and complexities. Based on research with staff involved in the production of content for BBC television and radio, this article explores the occupational context in which they work. In particular, it focuses on the experiences and strategies of the BBC’s Department of Religion and Ethics as it attempts to secure its survival as an autonomous production unit. This group of executives, producers, presenters and production staff are in many ways unique because of the professional and social role that they fulfil, most notably through the close historical and ideological ties between religion and the principles of public service.

This research finds a distinct professional identity built around a fusion of public service logic and commercialism, along with the mobilization of specialist knowledge. This allows the department to symbolically and discursively separate itself from other actors in this field as it attempts to reinforce religious broadcasting’s professional distinctiveness at a crucial time in the survival of the unit and to highlight the uniqueness of religion as a topic within cultural production.
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Keywords: broadcasting; production culture; professionalism; radio; religion; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of South Wales

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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