Special Issue "Religion and Ethics in Digital Culture"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021) | Viewed by 4864

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Kevin Healey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Communication, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Interests: digital culture; ethics; religion; contemplative studies; digital economies; democracy and media; philosophy of technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of media, religion, and culture has emerged as an important subfield in communication, media studies, and religious studies. The study of digital religion is an especially active area of research. While many studies show how traditional religious institutions adapt to online environments, or how new religious movements emerge organically through social media, fewer studies focus on the religious and ethical dimensions of putatively secular institutions, brands, and products that define digital culture: Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. Yet the headquarters and retail spaces of such institutions arguably serve as churches for congregations of employees and customers; developers and users relate to devices like the iPhone as sacred or magical objects; video game players look to tournament champions as moral or spiritual exemplars.

This Special Issue will explore the religious, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of digital culture in its more popular and ostensibly secular forms. Articles will examine manifestations of religion in institutions, devices, and content generally regarded as non-religious in design, intent, or purpose. These manifestations can be discursive, appearing in news interviews with CEOs or YouTube parodies of tech enthusiasts. They can be material, appearing in the design of branded devices and the architecture of commercial spaces. They can be intentional and explicit, as in marketing strategies that aim to mimic “successful” religions or employee workplace programs that integrate Buddhist mindfulness practices; or they may be unintentional or implicit, as in the devotional and ritualistic behavior of customers searching for their favorite product’s latest release.

Articles for this Special Issue may focus on one or more of the following aspects of digital culture: First, they may identify specific case studies (businesses, product design or content, marketing campaigns), demonstrating the presence of beliefs and practices that broadly qualify as religious in nature. Second, they may examine the cultural, historical, or economic implications of the religious and ethical dimensions of digital culture (impact on consumer behavior, citizenship, and other forms of social engagement). Third, articles may offer critical moral, ethical, or theological evaluations of digital culture, outlining strategies for transformation (more sustainable business practices and product designs, attention to the integrity of spiritual practices adapted in the workplace, etc.).

Through these explorations, this Special Issue will draw attention to, and deepen our understanding of, the often surprising ways religion, spirituality, and ethics appear in contemporary digital culture.

Dr. Kevin Healey
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Silicon Valley
  • digital culture
  • digital religion
  • media and religion
  • secularism
  • techno-utopianism
  • business ethics
  • workplace spirituality
  • branding

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Mapping Digital Religion: Exploring the Need for New Typologies
Religions 2021, 12(6), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060373 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1209
Abstract
Today, it is challenging to separate online and offline spaces and activities, and this is also true of digital religion as online and offline religious spaces become blended or blurred. With this background, the article explores the need for new typologies of what [...] Read more.
Today, it is challenging to separate online and offline spaces and activities, and this is also true of digital religion as online and offline religious spaces become blended or blurred. With this background, the article explores the need for new typologies of what is religious on the Internet and proposes a conceptual framework for mapping digital religion. Four types of that which is religious on the Internet are presented based on influential classification by Helland. He introduced (1) religion online (sites that provide information without interactivity) and (2) online religion (interactivity and participation). Helland’s concept is developed by, among others, adding two types: (3) innovative religion (new religious movements, cults, etc.) and (4) traditional religion (e.g., Christianity or Islam). Each type is illustrated by selected examples and these are a result of a larger project. The examples are grouped into three areas: (1) religious influencers, (2) online rituals and (3) cyber-religions (parody religions). Additionally, the visual frame for mapping digital religion is presented including the examples mentioned. The presented framework attempts to improve Helland’s classification by considering a more dynamic nature of digital religion. The model is just one possible way for mapping digital religion and thus should be developed further. These and other future research threads are characterized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Ethics in Digital Culture)
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Article
Digital Media: When God Becomes Everybody—The Blurring of Sacred and Profane
Religions 2021, 12(2), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12020110 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1594
Abstract
This article explores the relationship between communication technology and religion. While previous research has focused on how religious institutions and individuals use digital media, this article emphasizes the religious feelings digital media seem to invoke, with examples like the Jesus Phone or Kopimism. [...] Read more.
This article explores the relationship between communication technology and religion. While previous research has focused on how religious institutions and individuals use digital media, this article emphasizes the religious feelings digital media seem to invoke, with examples like the Jesus Phone or Kopimism. This is explained using theories from Religious Studies. Borrowing from Durkheim, digital media are examined as “sacred” and as “profane”. It is suggested that digital media can be both sacred and profane because hypermodern societies have sanctified the profane. More specifically, hypermodern societies have “killed” god and replaced it with the human, with everybody. It is then digital media—a tool that is meant to be owned by everybody and represent everybody—that take the place of the divine. This tool then, because it connects and communicates human needs and everyday thoughts (and not despite that), inspires feelings of awe and sanctity, even as we use it for the most profane activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Ethics in Digital Culture)
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Article
Vegan YouTubers Performing Ethical Beliefs
Religions 2021, 12(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010007 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1255
Abstract
In Great Britain, “religion or belief” is one of nine “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010, which protects citizens from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. This paper begins with a discussion about a 2020 ruling, “Jordi Casamitjana vs. LACS”, [...] Read more.
In Great Britain, “religion or belief” is one of nine “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010, which protects citizens from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. This paper begins with a discussion about a 2020 ruling, “Jordi Casamitjana vs. LACS”, which concluded that ethical vegans are entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold philosophical religious beliefs. While not all vegans hold a philosophical belief to the same extent as Casamitjana, the ruling is significant and will be of interest to scholars investigating non-religious ethical beliefs. To explore this, we have analysed a sample of YouTube videos on the theme of “my vegan story”, showing how vloggers circulate narratives about ethical veganism and the process of their conversion to vegan beliefs and practices. The story format can be understood as what Abby Day has described as a performative “belief narrative”, offering a greater opportunity to understand research participants’ beliefs and related identities than, for example, findings from a closed-question survey. We suggest that through performative acts, YouTubers create “ethical beliefs” through the social, mediatised, transformative, performative and relational practice of their digital content. In doing so, we incorporate a digital perspective to enrich academic discussions of non-religious beliefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Ethics in Digital Culture)
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