Monday, October 20, 2008

Still in Denmark: Learning about Mediatization in terms of Media, Religion & Culture

Hi, still from Copehnagen! After a day break after AoIR I am now involved in a facinating short conference sponsored by the Nordic Research Network on the Mediatization of Religion and Culture which is a facinating group of scholars who meet as part of a research grant to explore the interconnectedness between media, religious activities and beliefs, and broader cultural dynamics. This is the last of a series of event which is looking at Researching Media and Religion: Future Directions of Mediatization Theory and Analyses.

Today I have been learning a lot about the idea of mediatization, which is a contested term but generally describes the process which begins with a change in communication media and proceeds to subordination of the power of prevailing influential institutions .

Stig Hjarvard & Knut Lunby took different theoretical approaches to look at issues of how media transforms social networks of relations and the contrast between new and old media and how they may influence such discussions. I gave a talk on the how the iPhone has been framed as the Jesus phone as an example of the complexities of the circulations of meaning in mediatization.. My colleague Eric Rothenbuhler asserted that ifmediatization is a industrialized, technologization of the basic idea of human communication, designed for different purposes, outcomes and expectations-- then we maybe should expect media to be a generator of communicative forms
And Lynn Clark spoke about the need to consider how media contribute to an ongoing tranformaion of societal institions by thinking about how issues such as our understanding of time, space anf family may shape these. more facinating discussion to follow...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

AoIR Bof & the New Media & Religion Wiki

Today we are having the second annual meeting of AoIR research of religion and new media (Religion, Ritual & Internet culture). Birds of a Feather (Bof) is a chance for networking and last year was the first time we had a significant enough cohort to justify such a meeting. My first 2 AoIR conference I was often the only one or one of 2 presenters of religion online so this is definitely exciting for me.

I wanted to use the occasion to announce a results of our last years meeting, the Studying Religion and New Media Wiki. There was a recognition of a need for a networking space to share resources and connect with one another. After debating whether a blog or web site might be a possible forum I decided to jump start things with a more collaborative forum. It is space that lists who's who in the area of research, create a shared bibliography on different topic, gather online resource and announce conferences & grants & what not... If you are reading this, and are are a researcher in this area and want to be part of this wiki conversation just send an email to me at and I will help you get started.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Religion Online-part 2 at AoIR

I am sitting in on the second Religion Online panel at AoIR. We have three presenters.
Maria Beatrice Bittarello is speaking on Sacred Space vs. Sacred Place. She is basically is making the argument for differnetiating that Sacred Space denotes a sense of global, generic transcent space or a an arena in which one loose the sense of self--where as sacred place she says is defined as limited localised locations which are small and communal. These distinctions may become important when seeking to categorize different virtual space and how they are formed and one interacts with them.

Tim Hutchins is presenting (or presented as due to battery issue I am finishing this post 24 hrs later) on models of Church online. He draws on the work of .... (1999) who studies relations and conflict within offline congregations and developed 4 models to look at the relatiosnhips formed online in these church groups such as i-church & st pixels that be describes as: the family, the leader, the community or the worship center/space. Facinating study.

Nadja Miscjek from University of Heidlberg is doing work in the western esoteric tradition (i.e. new age religions) and how those who connect themselves to this tradition use the internet to present a distinctive religious identity. She spoke specifically about new ager practioners web page profile as a space to present their spiritual journeys.

So a lot of diversity of topics being covered at Aoir and I am glad I am no longer the lone voice of calling for attention to be paid to the online practice of religion and its potential offline implications.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Greetings from AoIRing in Copenhagen (and a long hiatus)

After a long hiatus I am back in the blogosphere. I never really left but was spending most of my time researching blogs rather than on writing them the past 6 month. Also am plowing my way through finishing the book after which this blogs has been titled, and after many days of 8+ hours of writing the last things I wanted to do was to blog. But I am now at Copenhagen at the 9th Annual Association of Internet Researchers Conference which seems like the perfect time return to the blogosphere.

Today I was on a very interesting panel entitled Rethinking Religion Online. It is one of 2 panels on religion at the conference and it is great to see the growing contingent of scholars working in this area. The panel consisted of Mark Johns from Iowa who reported on a study of religious groups operating on Facebook. Paul Teusner from RMIT-Australia presented work on religious podcasting in the emerging genres and motivations found. I presented a preliminary report on a comparative study of relgious identitiy presentation and construction by Jewish, Muslim & Christian bloggers. Mia Lovheim from Sweden/Norway shared a facinating study on religious web usage in Sweden and the challenges this poses to some of the previous assumptions about religious internet use. This was followed up by Knut Lunby who did a supurb job of summing up the presentation. Will try and add more detail here post-jetlag and a good night sleep. More to come...