Limits of Religious Analogy: The Example of Celebrity
Focusing on celebrities is often compared to a religious behavior, be it by the actors when describing their own practices or by scholars when using analogies with “cult”, “sacralization” or “sanctification”. Such comparisons appear to be both obvious and hardly convincing, since they merely evoke, without analyzing or explaining. Moreover, they ignore the normative effects—be they positive or negative—produced by any kind of religious analogy. This paper proposes several paths toward a reasoned use of comparison with religion: extending comparison to differences and not only to resemblances; passing from “religion” in general to the plurality of religions; deconstructing the said “religious” phenomenon into several functions depending on contexts; replacing discontinuous categories by continuous typologies and, finally, “religion” conceived as an original matrix by “religion” conceived as a contextual configuration. “Religion” thus appears as a common sense notion rather than as a conceptual instrument, and analysis may then fully develop without being restricted by religious analogies, while comparison may be used as a real tool.
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