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Brown bag seminar | Independent media, propaganda, and religiosity: Evidence from Poland

Can media affect religious behavior? Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Assistant Professor at the King's College London, study the effect of a drastic change in media landscape on religious participation in Poland, a country, where vast majority of the population considers itself Catholics. Join the SITE hybrid brown bag seminar on 12 April at 12:00 - 13:00 CEST Stockholm to learn more.

Independent Media, Propaganda, and Religiosity: Evidence from Poland

Authors: Irena Grosfeld (Paris School of Economics), Etienne Madinier (Paris School of Economics), Seyhun Orcan Sakalli (King's College London), Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Paris School of Economics)


Can media affect religious behavior? We study the effect of a drastic change in media landscape on religious participation in Poland, a country, where vast majority of the population considers itself Catholics. Before 2015, news on mainstream public and private media outlets had a similar moderately-liberal slant. In 2015, a right-wing populist party Law and Justice (PiS) came to power and took control of the editorial policy of public media, introducing a substantial conservative pro-government and pro-Church bias in public-media broadcast. A private TV network, TVN, remained the main source of freely available independent-from-the-government news on the Polish television. In a difference-in-differences setting, we exploit spatial variation in TVN signal, sufficiently good for reception in about two-thirds of the country, and the overtime change in the content of the major state-owned TV network, which has good reception almost everywhere. We document that, after PiS came to power, religious participation fell more in municipalities with access to TVN compared to municipalities receiving only state TV signal. Using a large-scale online randomization experiment, we examine the effects of exposure to different types of content available only via independent media. We show that exposing both the pedophilia within the Church and the mutual financial and political support between the Church and the ruling PiS party decreases trust in religious institutions, but the effect of exposing pedophilia scandals is stronger. The experiment's results persist for at least three weeks.

About the speaker

Seyhun Orcan Sakalli is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Economics at the King's Business School, King's College London.

Seyhun's research focuses on the implications of cross-cultural interactions between different ethnic and religious groups. On the one hand, it investigates the economic determinants of group conflict; on the other hand, it examines the effect of group conflict on economic development. Seyhun is also interested in the interaction between socio-economic policies and culture. In particular, he aim to understand the effectiveness of nation-building policies, shedding light on conditions under which they succeed or fail.

Research interests: Political Economy, Economic History, and Development Economics

Interested in joining the SITE brown bag seminar?

The link to the seminar will be distributed by invitation only. If you are interested to attend the seminar – please contact site@hhs.se. Follow the instructions below:

  • Type the subject box with “Brown bag seminar *INSERT SEMINAR TITLE*”
  • Indicate your affiliation and field of interest.

For registered applicants, a Zoom link will be provided prior to the event via email with further instructions.


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