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Engaging with Conflicts in Mediatized Religious Environments (CoMRel) (completed)

This project examined how religion in public conflicts becomes thematised and enacted through mass media and social media and further articulated in social interaction. 

The project was concluded 30.08.2018.

Image may contain: Red, Cross, Symbol, Font.
Religious stencil.
Illustration: Flickr, modified version by Matthew Fearnley. Creative Commons (CC) licens. 

The book from the project is available open access for free download from De Gruyter. (External site). Also accessible as paperback.

About the project

This project studied the intertwined role of media and religion in conflicts and tensions in contemporary Norway and the other Scandinavian societies.

The project was theoretically informed by research on mediatization of religion.

The social tensions that are addressed revolve around uses of public spaces.

The studies relate to three arenas where people engage in conflicts over religious symbols, items and claims that are made visible through the media. See subprojects.


Contested visibility in public service media

Case studies in the main public service broadcasters in Scandinavia. 

  • Norway: Postdoc Mona Abdel-Fadil.
  • Denmark: Professor Stig Hjarvard with Mattias Pape Rosenfeldt.
  • Sweden: Professor Mia Lövheim with Linnea Jensdotter.

Conflictual interactions in mixed localities

The subproject explored the intertwined role of media and religion in ethno-religious conflicts in contemporary Norway.

  • "Dynamics of religious-secular interaction in two localities in Norway". Postdoc Louise Lund Liebmann at the University of Agder was the principle researcher on this subproject
  • "Refugees and Asylum Seekers - a Topic on the Norwegian Christian Grass-roots?" Professor Pål Repstad at the University of Agder was responsible for this study.

Mediatized conflicts in public schools

This subproject studied classroom interaction in secondary schools with pupils from varied religious backgrounds.

The Norwegian part was conducted by ph.d-fellow Audun Toft and professor Liv Ingeborg Lied at MF Norwegian School of Theology. Audun Toft defended his PhD thesis on "Conflict and Entertainment. Media influence on Religious Education in Upper Secondary School in Norway" at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. 

A comparison with Sweden from 2016 focused the role of teachers in this classroom interaction. This part was directed by Mia Lövheim, Uppsala University, in cooperation with the project on "Teaching Religion in Late Modern Sweden", led by Anders Sjöborg and Malin Löfstedt with ph.d.-fellow Maximilian Broberg as the link to CoMRel. 

Survey in Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Survey on attitudes and activities in relation to media and religion was undertaken by CoMRel in the Scandinavian countries April 2015. TNS Gallup/SIFO did the survey with web-panels in each of the three countries. 


The project was funded by The Research Council of Norway under the Programme for Cultural Conditions Underlying Social Change (SAMKUL) as well as by the contributing institutions.

Project period

From 1st October 2014 to 30 August 2018.

Project partners

Participants of CoMRel project (June 2015)
CoMRel's participants from left to right: Audun Toft, Marie Gillespie (on advisory board), Knut Lundby, Birgit Meyer (on advisory board), Liv Ingeborg Lied, Mia Lövheim, David Herbert, Mattias Pape Rosenfeldt, Linnea Jensdotter, Mona Abdel-Fadil, Maximilan Broberg, Haakon H. Jernsletten and Stig Hjarvard. Pål Repstad and Louise Lund Liebmann were not present when the picture was taken. (Photo: CoMRel)


CoMRel concluding conference

Time and place: May 31, 2018 12:00 PM–4:00 PM, House of Literature in Oslo

The conference was aimed at the general public as well as stakeholders and researchers interested in issues on media and religion in societal conflicts.

The Religious Controversies Conference 2016

Time and place: Oct. 31, 2016–Nov. 2, 2016, Sigtunastiftelsen, Sweden

The Religious Controversies Conference (31.10.-2.11, 2016) was a collaboration between CoMRel and the Sigtuna Foundation.

It was the first of a series of seminars organised by the "New Public Outreach Strategies for Research on Religious Controversies" project managed by Mona Abdel-Fadil and funded by the Research Council of Norway.

CoMRel collaborated with the two other SAMKUL projects Formatting Religion and Muslim Politics in this regard.


Book and book chapters

  • Lundby, Knut (ed.) (2018). Contesting Religion.The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter (paperback & Open Access). Author or co-author of several chapters in the book.
  • Lövheim, Mia (2018). Media and religion – bridging 'incompatible agendas'.  In Doggett, Luke & Alp Arat (eds). Futures and Foundations in the Sociology of Religion. London: Routledge.
  • Toft, Audun (2017). Islam i klasserommet. Unge muslimers opplevelse av undervisning om islam. I Ida Marie Høeg (red.), Religion og ungdom (s. 33–50). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget
  • Lundby, Knut (2017). Public Religion in Mediatized Transformations. In Fredrik Engelstad,
  • Håkon Larsen, Jon Rogstad, & Kari Steen-Johnsen (eds.), Institutional Change in the Public Sphere. Views on the Nordic Model (pp. 241–263). Warsaw: De Gruyter Open.
  • Hjarvard, Stig, Mortensen, Mette, & Eskjær, Mikkel F. (2015). Introduction. Three Dynamics of Mediatized Conflicts. I M. Fugl Eskjær, S. Hjarvard, & M. Mortensen (red.), The Dynamics of Mediatized Conflicts. (s. 1-27). New York: Peter Lang. (Global Crises and the Media, Vol. 3).
  • Reports Lundby, Knut & Salve Jortveit (2015). Dokumentasjon av CoMRel survey april 2015. Pdf på CoMRel web. Oslo: Institutt for medier og kommunikasjon,Universitetet i Oslo/TNS Gallup.

PhD thesis

  • Toft, Audun (2019). Conflict and Entertainment. Media Influence on Religious Education in Upper Secondary School in Norway. PhD thesis. MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Liebmann, Louise Lund; Lise Paulsen Galal & Magdalena Nordin (2018). Routes and relations in Scandinavian interfaith forums: Governance of religious diversity by states and majority churches, Social Compass, E-pub ahead of print 30.07.2018.
  • Lundby, Knut; Stig Hjarvard, Mia Lövheim & Haakon H. Jernsletten (2017). Religion Between Politics and Media: Conflicting Attitudes Towards Islam in Scandinavia, Journal of Religion in Europe, 10(4): 437–456. DOI 10.1163/18748929-01004005
  • Abdel-Fadil, Mona (2017). Identity Politics in a Mediatized Religious Environment on Facebook: Yes to Wearing the Cross Whenever and Whereever I Choose. Journal of Religion in Europe, 10(4): 457–486. DOI 10.1163/18748929-01004001
  • Lundby, Knut (2017). Mediebruk og konflikter om religion i Norge, Norsk medietidsskrift, 24(4): 1–19. DOI: 10.18261/ISSN.0508-9335-2017-04-02
  • Hjarvard, Stig & Mattias Pape Rosenfeldt (2017). Giving Satirical Voice to Religious Conflict: The Potentials of the Cultural Public Sphere. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 30(2): 136–152. DOI 10.18261/issn.1890-7008-2017-02-03
  • Liebmann, Louise Lund (2017). Interfaith Dialogue in Christian Norway: Enactment of Inclusive Religiosity as Civilized Behavior, Journal of Religion in Europe, 10(3): 301–327. DOI: 10.1163/18748929-01003003
  • Broberg, Maximilian (2017). The use of teaching materials in religious education in Sweden: a quantiatie analysis of Swedish religious education teachers' reported use of teaching materials in RE classrooms. British Journal of Religious Education. Published online 24.11.2017.
  • Liebmann, Louise Lund (2016). Review: Guro Ødegård, Jull Loga, Kari Steen-Johnsen & Bodil Ravneberg: Fellesskap pg forskjellighet. Integrasjon og nettverksbyggning i flerkulturelle lokalsamfund. Sosiologia, 53(2): 183–185.
  • Abdel-Fadil, Mona (2016). Conflict and Affect Among Conservative Christians on Facebook in Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet. 
  • Repstad, Pål (2016). Skepsis til asylsøkere på den kristne grasrota? En undersøkelse av lokale publikasjoner. Kirke og Kultur, 120(4): 312–324. DOI 10.18261/issn.1504-3002-2016-04-02
  • Hjarvard, Stig (2016). Mediatization and the changing authority of religion. Media, Culture & Society, 38(1): 8–17. DOI 10.1177/0163443715615412 
  • Lövheim, Mia (2016). Mediatization: analyzing transformations of religion from a gender perspective. Media, Culture & Society, 38(1): 18–27. DOI: 10.1177/0163443715615411 
  • Lundby, Knut (2016). Mediatization and secularization: transformations of public service institutions – the case of Norway. Media, Culture & Society, 38(1): 28–36. DOI: 10.1177/0163443715615414
  • Løvland, Anne og Pål Repstad (2015). Religious symbols in public spaces: Asking people in and out of context. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 28(2): 155-170.
  • Hepp, Andreas; Stig Hjarvard and Knut Lundby (2015). Mediatization: theorizing the interplay between media, culture and society. Media, Culture & Society 37(2): 314–324. DOI 10.1177/0163443715573835 

Other Journal Articles and Book Reviews

  • Repstad, Pål (2017). "To know him is to love him." Fordommer, mediebilder og personlig kontakt, Religion og livssyn. Tidsskrift for religionslærerforeningen i Norge, 29(2): 21–28.
  • Liebmann, Louise Lund (2017). Review of Lena Gemzöe, Marja-Liisa Keinänen, Avril Maddrell (eds.). Contemporary Encounters in Gender and Religion: European Perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. 2016. 364 pages. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 30(2): 175–176. DOI 10.18261/issn.1890-7008-2017-02-06
  • Liebmann, Louise Lund (2016). Review: Guro Ødegård, Jull Loga, Kari Steen-Johnsen & Bodil Ravneberg: Fellesskap pg forskjellighet. Integrasjon og nettverksbyggning i flerkulturelle lokalsamfund, Sosiologia, 53: 183–185 (ISBN 0038-1640).
  • Lundby, Knut (2016). Religion og medier i Norge. Religion og Livssyn. Tidsskrift for religionslærerforeningen i Norge, 28(1): 15–22.
Published Oct. 27, 2020 1:17 PM - Last modified Aug. 8, 2022 1:52 PM