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INTRODUCTION: Rethinking the online–offline connection in the study of religion online

TitleINTRODUCTION: Rethinking the online–offline connection in the study of religion online
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsCampbell, HA, Lövheim, M
JournalInformation, Communication & Society

This article introduces current research on the connection between online and offline religion and map out significant questions and themes concerning how this relationship takes shape among different religious traditions and contexts. By bringing together a collection of studies that explore these issues, we seek to investigate both how the Internet informs religious cultures in everyday life and how the Internet is being shaped by offline religious traditions and communities. In order to contextualize the articles in the special issue, we offer a brief overview of how religion online has been studied over the past two decades with attention given to how the intersection of online–offline religion has been approached. This is followed by a discussion of key questions in the recent study of the relationship between online and offline religion and significant themes that emerge in contemporary research on religious uses of the Internet. These questions and themes help contextualize the unique contributions this special issue offers to the current discourse in this area, as well as how it might inform the wider field of Internet studies. We end by suggesting where future research on religion and the Internet might be headed, especially in relation to how we understand and approach the overlap between online and offline religion as a space of hybridity and social interdependence.