heidi campbell associate professor texas a m university usa n.
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Religious Digital Creatives as New Cultural Authorities

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Heidi Campbell Associate Professor, Texas A&M University-USA. Religious Digital Creatives as New Cultural Authorities. Studying Networked Religion.

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studying networked religion
Studying Networked Religion

Campbell, H. (2012). Understanding the relationship between religious practice online and offline in a networked society. Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

Common trends within the practice of religion on the internet highlight characteristics of how religions is lived both online and offline.

traits of networked religion
Traits of Networked Religion

Convergent Practice

  • Personalized blending of information & rituals

Multi-site Reality

  • Embedded/blended online-offline connections

Networked Community

  • Loosely-bounded social networks

Storied Identity

  • Fluid & dynamic identity construction

Shifting Authority

  • Simultaneous empowerment & challenge of authority
shifting authority
Shifting Authority

Internet contributing to shifting conceptions & practices of religious authority having offline impact

  • Rise of new religious gatekeepers, spokespersons & authority structures online (Campbell 2007; Campbell & Golan 2010)
  • Offline religious leaders seek to solidify their position in the face new sources of legitimacy& influence (Campbell 2010)
  • Internet support Logics of Disjuncture & Displacement, Continuity & Complementarity and Dialectics & Paradox regarding authority (Cheong 2013)
exploring authority in new media culture
Exploring Authority in New Media Culture

Traditional Authority based on:

New Media Authority based on:

  • training/credential systems
  • initiations rites
  • structural and cultural (divine) hierarchies
  • institutional expertise
  • ranking/reputation system
  • visibility online
  • social network linkages and endorsements
  • digital expertise

Dawson 2004, Barker 2005, Campbell 2007 & 2010, Lovheim 2008,Cheong & Poon 2009, Cheong 2012

exploring religious authority in new media culture
Exploring Religious Authority in New Media Culture

Anderson -The Internet and Islam’s New Interpreter’s (1999)

  • Internet offers a new public space giving rise to unique forms of authority that can challenge traditional religious authorities
    • authority roles (new leaders-i.e. webmasters)
    • structures (new spaces, i.e. online communities)
    • discourses (new systems of knowledge, i.e. hyperlinks)
religious digital creatives
Religious Digital Creatives
  • RDCs – digital innovators, designers & entrepreneurs whose new media work & use grant them unique status and/or influence within their religious communities
      • Creole Pioneers: individuals with professional-technical qualifications “bringing religious interest online after-hours”
      • Reformer Critic: alternative & oppositional groups using the Internet for mobilizing their agenda or to witness to their belief in new public sphere
      • Spokesperson-Activists: institutions drawing on established interpretive patterns and structures online
    • 81 interviews with select Religious Digital Innovators & Denominational Media Officers in 2011-2013
c reole pioneers
Creole Pioneers
    • Professionals bringing religious interest online
    • Digital Designers- digital & media resource creators shaping religious discourse & practice due to notoriety of tech/online work
  • Eric van den Berg, Katholiek.nl
  • Miriam Diez Bosch, Aleteia.0rg
r eformer critics
Reformer Critics
    • Using net to mobilize agenda or public witness
    • Theoblogians-theological bloggers whose reflection and networking grant them with glocal influence as religious interpreters
  • Oriol Domingo Paimes, Saecula-Saeculorum (Spain)
spokesperson activists
  • Institutions representatives
  • Digital Spokespersons- webmasters & digital curators functioning as spokespersons online
    • James Abbott, Webmaster-diocese of London
    • Ronnie Convery- Media Rep, archdiocese of Glasgow
exploring religious authority in new media culture1
Exploring Religious Authority in New Media Culture

Initial Reflections…

  • Creole Pioneers: Rise of unintentional authorities, experience dissonance within communities, framed as competitor, seek to build bridges/educate
  • Reformer Critics: Online brings offline influence, cultivation of legitimacy
exploring religious authority in new media culture2
Exploring Religious Authority in New Media Culture

Initial Reflections…

  • Spokesperson-Advocates: Latecomers, appointed /arise in response to perceived loss of power, recognize limits & need for engagement
  • Blurring of and interplay between online-offline influence, rise of negotiated & performed authority
thank you
Thank You!


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