I have been interested at least for 10 ten years in the question whether one’s religious affiliation/persuasion/background values influence how one uses new media. I am curious about this topic not just on the individual level, but also whether it manifests on the group, church level. In other words whether there are any differences in how adherents of a certain religious group behave in the online environment.
Five years ago, as I was finishing my double BA in Sociology and Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara, I started to think about what kind of graduate degree I would like to have. At the time I put the above in these words: “I am interested in the area where technology, sociology and religion meets.” Back then I had financial and time constraints so I decided not to pursue a PhD. I researched which US university would offer an MA where I could study the above. I didn’t find any program that would meet exactly my needs and interest and eventually decided to get a Masters of Library and Information Sciences. My compromise was supported by three reasons:
- I loved the idea of becoming a librarian. It also meant that my studies would lead to a field, where I thought, I could find a position and make a living. (I didn’t count on the tough current job market though.)
- I was studying religion and sociology at the time, so I was ready to study some technology.
- All four graduate schools I applied to had a strong sociology department with some faculty working tangentially on the topic I was interested in. I was hoping I could take some related courses, outside or in combination with my department.
Thus I went ahead and got my MLIS at University of Washington. Every chance I had I worked religion into my papers and projects. In a future post I will list them. Now, two years after I graduated, I realized that even though I still want to know more about the questions I posted in the first paragraph, I haven’t done much about it. I am still not at a point in my life where I could do a PhD, but at least I want to educate myself on my own schedule. I will attempt to do it in two ways.
- Read all the scholarly literature I can put my hands on. It may not be simple, as I don’t have any budget for buying books and the public library system may not have the necessary books and journals. I am hoping that the libraries of the local colleges might.
The starting point of my research will be Heidi Campbell‘s excellent blog (When Religion Meets New Media) and wiki (Studying Religion and New Media Wiki). She is studying exactly what I would, so I will just read what she writes and recommends. I will keep a log of what I read and learned here, under the new category of my blog titled “online religion.”
- Blogging and commenting related news items as they appear. These entries will appear in the same category of my blog and on my new (currently empty) microblog at onrel.tumblr.com.