In recent years, global religious leadership has been intensified through institutional and media efforts as social media has become a pivotal platform, enabling various religious groups and leaders a social sphere to compete for religious primacy. This study aims to unveil the online strategies that religious institutions employ to fortify the charismatic appeal of a leader and expand outreach. Focusing on Pope Francis’ Instagram account, the study inquires, how is online religious authority constructed, re-affirmed and implemented by religious organizations? Seeded in Pope Ratzingers’ activity on social networks, Pope Francis has widely developed his media work to augment the visual aspects of his leadership, most notably via Instagram. Thus, to uncover the nature of online religious charisma we developed an unobtrusive research design that analysed the full Instagram production of Pope Francis’ official account. Findings uncovered four facets through which visual communication on social media enable the strategic construction of religious authority. This includes: (1) Neutralization of Ecclesiastic Hierarchy; (2) Construction of Sacred Geographies; (3) Interaction with the Public (4) Pope Francis’ Visual Foci. Gleaning from its findings, the study elucidates efforts to revitalize charisma through online-visual means. Strategies that are employed for the Holy See, and shed light on contemporary discussions on leadership and soft power structures that are emerging in the digital age.
|Number of pages
|Problemi dell'informazione, Rivista quadrimestrale
|Published - 2019
- Pope Francis
- Digital Religion