Thursday, October 18, 2007

Religion at Play on the Net: community, identity and authority (AOIR 8.0)

Way Hay, here we go...Here is my report on our panel.

Paul Teusner a PhD student from RMIT down under presented on Christianity 2.0, religion for a new web. His research focuses on the emerging church dialogue and community online and how the blogs have influence the identity of this conversation and growing global network. His work focuses on the Australian context by doing content analysis and f2f interviews with Aussie Bloggers. His initial hypothesis are (1) the emerging cyberchristian, noting they represent a new global christian perspective based on personal belief and passion, a collective memory of the self and their community; (2) authentic identity and virtual community; (3) a postmodern stance
and (4) nationalisation, globalisation and being "glocal". For more details on this talk to Paul online.

Mia Lovheim gave a virtual presentation (written by Mia, ready by Lynn) on Rethinking Cyberreligion? youth and the internet in Sweden. Her project is sponsored by the Church of Sweden of the concern that young people are going online rather than offline to learn and participate in religion. She found searching through Google was the dominant way young people searched out religion with searching out general info about religious, listening to religious music and asking religious questions being the most common uses. More teens may meet religion than through traditional context, if the do use it for religious purposes they are probably already active in religion online. The internet is use for gathering info on religion mostly for school and entertainment. The internet used for individual religious purpose than social interaction.

Of course there was me. I presented the findings from a recent study on religious (specifically Christian) bloggers and how they frame their religious identity online and how they treat different sources of religious authority online. The study is based a theoretical article I write for JCMC arguing that if we are we going to make claims that the internet is challenging or affirming traditional forms of authority we need to start with a more nuanced definition of the concept of authority to ground these claims. I argue that we need to differentiate between religious roles, texts, structures and ideologies/theologies when studying and making such claims. This detailed content analysis study basically attempts to investigate claims about which of these categories are most affirmed or challenged online and what type of authorities are most referred to.

Lynn Schofield Clark from DU presented on her current work on religious discourse with in Bloggers fans of the TV show Lost. She is interested in the connection of her work with Henry Jenkins work on convergence culture and its relation to fandom. “consumption as a collective process” collective intelligence as a source of media power. Lost is a key example of this, not only the show, but also how fans interpret and discuss the show online. Online fans found Christian themes mentioned in the series to be the most decipherable and the most problematic, Islam and Judaism being these least commented on and Buddhism were the most puzzling. She has a fascinating analysis of the fan's discourse about Christian narrative and interpretations online as well as the growing Buddhism of lost in the 2nd season. This paper should be out in print soon so contact Lynn if you are interested.

1 comment:

Mary E said...

Your paper sounds really interesting -- will you make it available online to us? Hope so! Mary Hess