Internet and Social Networking

Authored by: Heidi A. Campbell , Paul Emerson Teusner

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415638661
eBook ISBN: 9781315724478
Adobe ISBN: 9781317531067


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In this chapter we explore the intersection and interaction between religion and new media technologies. In the past two decades, the practice and presentation of religion has increasingly been intertwined with new media technologies. Many religious communities display Web sites about their mission and activities. Blogs have become a platform for both religious leaders and laity to reflect on their faith, and religious “apps” have enabled the faithful to make their practice of faith more mobile and digital. This embrace of digital technology has the potential to both enhance and challenge religious behavior and beliefs of individuals and groups. This is in part because the story of the Internet is a story laden with both fear and promise, from its birth in military projects under the threat of nuclear war to its public release that promised a new freedom of information and instant communication. Computers and information communication technologies carry with them certain ideological conceptions that encourage certain values (Campbell 2005a: 6–12). New media culture is characterized by key features—such as efficiency, instantaneous communication, networked interaction, and mobility—which can be seen as promoting values of efficiency, non-hierarchical authority, and individualized practice. These are values that simultaneously empower and challenge religious individuals and communities and their traditional practices or ways of life in many respects. The aim of this chapter is to explore the growth of religious Internet and new media practices as well as the outcomes and challenges of these behaviors. Furthermore, it will outline some key rhetorics of the Internet that have shaped the way people understand new technologies and use them for religious purposes.

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