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Title: Popes, papers & publics : media representations and public perceptions of Catholicism and evolution in England
Author: Riley, James
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2019
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The majority of social studies of science and religion have been conducted in the USA, and tend to focus on perceived ‘problematic groups’ such as Evangelical creationists, potentially skewing our perception of how science and religion may relate in other societies. Furthermore, Catholicism is a religion held in a paradoxical position, with scholarly discourse not deeming it a ‘problematic group’ regarding evolution, yet the Church is often represented as particularly anti-science in public discourse. Accordingly, this thesis aims to empirically investigate the relationship between Catholicism and evolution in England. It achieves this in two ways. Firstly, through an ethnographic content analysis of public discourse, exploring how large-circulation English newspapers have represented recent papal statements on evolution by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis (1996-2017). I find some contradictory media interpretations of popes’ statements on evolution, highlighting the contingent nature of representations of science and religion in public discourse. Secondly, through analysing public attitudes, via a thematic analysis of 31 semi-structured interviews with Catholics in England. While the majority had ‘no problem’ with evolution, 5 expressed opposition to evolution, this however was not based on Biblical literalism. The implications are discussed, particularly regarding the use of evolution-related survey measures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BL Religion ; H Social Sciences (General) ; HM Sociology ; QH301 Biology