Friday, July 23, 2010

iPhone 4 and brand culture as religion

Today the Atlantic has an article entitled The Varieties of Religious Experience: How Apple Stays Divine which looks at how Apple may weather the recent "attenagate" deficiency in the iPhone4. I am quoted in the article highlighting the idea that Apple functions as a religious-like brand cult and so generates religious like behaviors and sentiments from Mac Fans that build trust in and devotion to the product even in the face of criticism.

The article also cites a recently published co-authored piece my myself and a colleague wrote for New Media & Society entitled How the iPhone Became Divine: New Media, Religion and the Intertextual Circulation of Meaning, were we consider why and how religious language, imagery gets linked to technology (specifically the iPhone) to demonstrate that there is a long tradition of equating technology with religion/magic/spirituality and how religion can become a unique & flexible framing and interpretive discourse related to techno- products and cultures in American popular culture. It is interesting how our article coming out(though written in 2007) at the same time there has been a lot of discourse in the popular media about Apple being a form of tech-religion.


Anonymous said...

hi there :-)

i'm very interested in reading your article "How the iPhone Became Divine: New Media, Religion and the Intertextual Circulation of Meaning" . but the only why i could find out about it was the pdf on the sage journal site which would cost me $ 25 (!).
is there another way where i could read it ?

thanks in advance


mdfischer said...

The evidence for this thesis appears to be derived largely from the views and productions of the critics of Apple and Apple users rather than its 'devotees'. This approach on first blush should produce results analogous to analysing Islam based on the views and productions of the members of a small town in Texas - you would learn a great deal, but not much about Islam. Thus the article may reflect the evolution of an American culture of critique based on faith rather than evidence

If we follow Boyer's argument that religion requires some core beliefs that its followers find irrational and must resolve, we should not conclude that most users of Apple products are exhibiting religious-like beliefs, as there are no such apparently irrational elements to resolve from their point of view. Apple critics, on the other hand, construct irrational conundrums, resolving these by invoking the mirror image of their own 'religious faith'.