The workshop addresses these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective. Resulting from the joint organizational effort of CERES (Center for Religious Studies) and CAIS (Center for Advanced Internet Studies) of Ruhr Universität Bochum, it will put in conversation scholars in the field of religion and in the field of media studies, offering opportunities to bring together and confront different methodological and theoretical approaches:
Religion in contemporary Europe is undergoing dynamic and compelling changes: for example, migrations are changing the religious landscape, creating the need for minorities to enter in public debates; discrimination and racism compel scholars to reflect on the role of media and free speech; the risk of radicalization of certain minorities is an urgent social and political issue. These changes often regard contacts between religious groups, involving minorities that have to confront mainstream religiosity and different religious traditions that coexist in the same environment.
Digitalization has a central impact on these religious changes. As digital media became increasingly pervasive in the European public sphere, interpersonal relations and cultural actions are inevitably conditioned by the presence of the Internet. Religious groups address each other and frame their identities through digital spaces, which are often intertwined with physical spaces.
However, scholars still need to find compelling methods and theories to address the ethical and social consequences of digitalization on religious groups and religious contact. While, in certain circumstances, existing methods and theories in media and religious studies can prove useful, there are some questions to be explored: How can scholars collect data about digital religion and analyse them? Which framework can better capture the role of the Internet in relation to religious contact? What kind of impact does digitalization have on religion, and how can it be analyzed?