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Article

Religious “Bubbles” in a Superdiverse Digital Landscape? Research with Religious Youth on Instagram

1
Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1010 Vienna, Austria
2
Research Centre “Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society”, University of Vienna, 1010 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Oren Golan
Religions 2022, 13(3), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030213
Received: 23 December 2021 / Revised: 28 January 2022 / Accepted: 28 February 2022 / Published: 2 March 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Youth and Religion)
Religious activities are no longer confined to local religious communities, but are increasingly taking place online. In that regard, social media is of particular importance for young believers that connect with their peers via platforms such as Instagram. There are conflicting views on the functioning of social media platforms: they are either conceptualized as superdiverse spaces, in which social boundaries can be overcome, or as resulting in separate bubbles that foster exclusive exchanges between like-minded people sharing certain characteristics, including religious affiliation. This article assesses online religious activities based on qualitative research involving 41 young, urban, religious Instagram users of different faiths. We demonstrate how young believers’ interactions on social media produce thematically bound content bubbles that are considerably homogeneous when it comes to religion, but superdiverse in other areas. Religious activities online often have an affirmative effect on religious belonging. This is especially true for young people that perceive themselves in a minority position and search for like-minded people online. We have found that religious content bubbles are clustered around religious traditions. Interreligious exchange (e.g., between Christians and Sikhs) is largely absent, whereas intrareligious boundaries (e.g., between Lutherans, Catholics, and Pentecostals) become blurred. This suggests that differences within religious traditions are losing significance in a digitalized world, while interreligious boundaries remain. View Full-Text
Keywords: religious youth; social media; digital religion; diversity; belonging religious youth; social media; digital religion; diversity; belonging
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MDPI and ACS Style

Novak, C.; Haselbacher, M.; Mattes, A.; Limacher, K. Religious “Bubbles” in a Superdiverse Digital Landscape? Research with Religious Youth on Instagram. Religions 2022, 13, 213. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030213

AMA Style

Novak C, Haselbacher M, Mattes A, Limacher K. Religious “Bubbles” in a Superdiverse Digital Landscape? Research with Religious Youth on Instagram. Religions. 2022; 13(3):213. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030213

Chicago/Turabian Style

Novak, Christoph, Miriam Haselbacher, Astrid Mattes, and Katharina Limacher. 2022. "Religious “Bubbles” in a Superdiverse Digital Landscape? Research with Religious Youth on Instagram" Religions 13, no. 3: 213. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030213

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