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“Are You Religious or are You Saved?”: Defining Membership Categories in Religious Discussions on YouTube

Issue: Vol 6 No. 1 (2011)

Journal: Fieldwork in Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/firn.v6i1.47


Using membership categorization analysis, this article investigates membership categories in a YouTube video made by an Evangelical Christian in which he differentiates between “saved” and “religious” users. Analysis will take a discourse-centred, multimodal approach grounded in longitudinal observation, using analysis of video discourse to instruct analysis of video images and user comments. Findings will show that categorization is accomplished by using recognized categories with ambiguous descriptions of category-bound activities that include metaphors, such as “being hungry for God” and not “hanging out with atheists.” These categories are recognized by commenters on the video, but the category bound activities applied to the category members are disputed. Findings will also show that scriptural reference plays an important role in categorization in the video, drawing on direct Bible quotes as well as paraphrases of key passages.

Author: Stephen Pihlaja

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