"Black CNN" : The Epidemiology of Moral and Religious Beliefs

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Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Narrative art (oral traditions, books, movies, TV shows, songs) usually covers some socio-moral issues, its production and consumption have a fixed developmental trajectory and people spend an inordinate amount of time enjoying it. Contemporary moral psychology, for reasons that have mainly to do with a non-reflective nature of a lot of moral processes, is rather skeptical about the possibilities of formal moral education to bring about the moral change in its recipient and it rather emphasizes the role of informal approaches (e.g., narratives) that are set in a specific and emotionally saturated context. Given that, it is rather surprising that not much attention has been dedicated to the role of narrative art in shaping the moral outlook of its recipients. The main aim of this poster is to argue that we should pay attention to it. I will proceed as follows. First, I will provide some theoretical background – drawing from developmental literature, cognitive narratology and evolutionary aesthetics – that gives some initial support to the notion of narratives as medium of cultural transmission of moral information. Second, as a case study, I will use one type of storytelling – rap. I will introduce three criteria that seem useful in determining the potential success of a given medium: content (whether there is some moral content present), extent (there should be some minimal extent of the given medium to make sure that it can contain moral message) and reach (how big is the social network of recipients of a given medium). Finally, I will present a database that I am building which illustrates that rap is a superb example of a medium through which moral ideas can spread and that even researchers not interested in cultural transmission, but in topics like group dynamics or nature of ritual, should pay attention to it.
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