restricted access The Culture-Religion Nexus: (Neo-)Durkheimianism and Mediatized Confucianism in Korean "Piety Travel"


This article aims to ask why there is an oft-made elision between culture and religion. It views Confucianism (and Confucian values) in Korea as an instance of this. Offering a critical re-reading of debates spurred by Durkheimian social science, it analyzes what I call the "culture-religion" nexus. In doing so, this article tries to suggest that prior concepts deployed to address this nexus—namely, "popular religion" and "civil religion"—may need to be rethought to consider the significance of media, and the symbolic structure that it facilitates in the crafting of individualized moral-meaning systems or codes. As a result, I suggest that religion and culture, both, operate within conditions whereby individuals do not passively receive doctrine but rather interpret and construct "lifestyles." I demonstrate how this works through a media analysis of the recent trend of "piety travel" in South Korean television programming and its "mediatization" of Confucian values.