Public morality and the transformation of Islamic media in Indonesia

Authored by: Arie Setyaningrum Pamungkas

Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138182509
eBook ISBN: 9781315646435
Adobe ISBN:


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Public morality is commonly perceived as moral and ethical standards addressed to society. It involves social pressures to uphold moral and ethical standards, forms of regulations (discipline), and is often characterized by moral panics. With regard to the transformation of Islamic media in Indonesia, da’wa is key to identifying proper Islamic practices of public morality. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the da’wa practice that gave birth to Islamic media in Indonesia during the colonial period, and to understand it as a prolonged socio-political movement in the postcolonial era under the capitalist mode of production through mass mediated industry. In the colonial period, Islamic media played a significant role in popularizing Islamic teachings and the construction of national identity. During Sukarno’s rule, Islamic media was also a key factor for building national character and expressing fear with respect to the impacts of polarized global power in the postcolonial era. The promotion of Islamic piety during the post-1965 Suharto period opened spaces for new forms of Islamization, especially when da’wa practices met the capitalist modes of production of the media industry that transformed them into pop culture. Islamic pop culture continues to be hegemonic in the post-Suharto era, but it is also shaped by various global da’wa movements that have their own audiences but also share knowledge with a larger global audience referred to as the Muslim public sphere. Therefore, when global da’wa movements shape the Muslim public sphere through mass mediated forms, they struggle to claim ‘public morality’ for particular interests or audiences (markets), and inevitably adherents.

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