Following the emergence of a new political economy and accelerating processes of decentralization, marketization, and the privatization of public services since the 1980, traditional institutional religious organizations have become ever more compelled to re-configure themselves in accordance with market-oriented modes of organizational and managerial culture. As part of these developments, many institutional churches have increasingly started to engage in a technologization of discourse that chiefly involves the re-formulation of official church discourse in accordance with market-oriented values and imperatives. This project constitutes an empirical investigation of the proliferation and impact of market logics and consumer culture ideologies (conceptualized as marketization) on the self-perception,
organizational culture, and professional ethos of the institutional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The project
investigates these issues on the interrelated levels of official church discourse and actual practice at different regional and local levels.
On the level of discourse, the project investigates processes of marketization in the ELCF in relation to official church discourse that (1) represents the church as a modern civil-service provider; (2) that constructs the church as being in need of organizational restructuring and more effective management; and (3) that re-defines the professional ethos of church personnel in accordance with the values and demands of an increasingly marketized broader social and cultural environment. On the level of practice, the project investigates how the practical implementation of such discourse is negotiated and implemented on a day-to-day basis at different organizational levels within the church, focusing on (1) the actual, concrete ways in which parishes have increasingly come to function as creators and providers of different forms of civil-service; (2) the actual organizational restructurings and managerial strategies that have actually been implemented at different levels of church organization; and (3) the identifiable actual consequences of the above-mentioned developments for the professional ethos of church personnel.
The project develops and operationalizes a new theoretical perspective and multi-method framework for the in-depth empirical investigation of the relationship between processes of marketization, the technologization of discourse, and concrete, actual institutional religious change.