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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Playing the market : contemporary Christian music and the theory of religious economy Carrick, Jamie


Contemporary Christian music (CCM) is a fascinating and understudied part of the religious vitality of modern American religion. In this dissertation the theory of religious economy is proposed as a valuable and highly serviceable methodological approach for the scholarly study of CCM. The theory of religious economy, or the marketplace approach, incorporates economic concepts and terminology in order to better explain American religion in its distinctly American context. In this study, I propose three ways in which this method can be applied. Firstly, I propose that CCM artists can be identified as religious firms operating on the “supply-side” of the religio-economic dynamic; it is their music, specifically the diverse brands of Christianity espoused there within, that can allow CCM artists to be interpreted in such a way. Secondly, the diversity within the public religious expressions of CCM artists can be recognized as being comparable to religious pluralism in a free marketplace of religion. Finally, it is suggested that the relationship between supply-side firms is determined, primarily, by the competitive reality of a free market religious economy.

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