My research examines social change resulting from or intimately related to society’s increasing cultural complexification, broadly summarized under the heading of “post-modernity.” I make use of multiple data sources and methods, from content analysis of large bodies of media items to detailed observations of everyday life collected through ethnographic fieldwork, and emphasize the importance of combining empirical findings and theory to identify the dynamics that shape our society and the transformations it goes through.
My current agenda focuses on transformation processes related to two topics: (1.) Pope Francis’s interaction with the media and (2.) the relationship between popular religiosity and institutional religion. The first topic is addressed through a study that seeks to understand Pope Francis’s communication strategy and framing by international news media, questioning the possibilities of new pathways to legitimation, by means of computational analyses of large corpora of online newspaper articles, photos and videos. To address the second topic, I’ve conducted a project that consists of several separate studies. Two of them are currently analyzing how religious rituals and symbols contribute to the reproduction of specific systems of social relations among the Catholic members of two Southeast Asian immigrant communities in Italy.
My other work has addressed topics related to advertising, young people and the medical field. I have examined the use of religious content in commercial advertising by analyzing a large sample of Italian advertisements dated between 1957-2013, the social impact of the recent economic crisis upon youth, and physicians’ perceptions and experiences regarding end-of-life care. I have also investigated the question of the European identity in relation to the media and conducted a project on how the Internet is leading to a transformation in health knowledge by creating an environment where an unprecedented amount of health information becomes easily accessible.