...And Reconcile Us With Evil : A Critical Investigation of the Imagery of Good and Evil in Western Religion, Film and Politics

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen

Abstract: With an eye on the current social and political situation in Europe, and with regards to the so-termed refugee crisis, this study aims to map the discourse on assumed good and evil shared among Western cultures, as represented by Sweden, Germany and the United States.  The thesis takes its point of departure from essayistic reflections of the philosophical tradition and theological and religious analytical positions respectively. These are then followed by two investigative main chapters, designed along the lines of Norman Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis (CDA). The first of these chapters studies the narratives of good and evil employed in the mainstream cinema of the past ten years in the mentioned countries. The second analysis is made up of three case studies, in turn looking at similar narratives in the campaigns of the two main competitors in the 2016 presidential race, a German protest movement against free trade agreements, and the everyday political communication of Swedish Facebook users. In a final chapter, findings from all four preceding chapters are brought together in an attempt to sketch an image of the congruences and discrepancies of narratives on good and evil in the overall discursive field. The thesis finds that the discursive field shared by the three investigated societies is largely homogenous, with certain imagery permeating all analysed orders of discourse. Many of the reoccurring images are however likely rooted in the human psyche and therefore less dependent on discourse practice. Furthermore, certain principles are agreed upon in theory while not reproduced in social practice. Themes assigned to either good or evil often seem to take on secondary functions next to assumed fixed identities of in- and out-groups.  Being a qualitative study, this thesis aims at giving an overview and delivering a base for further investigations rather than providing definitive answers.

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