CALL FOR Papers: Religious Practices and the Internet


  • recherches en sciences sociales sur internet
  • social scienceresearch on the internet
ISSN 4939–0247


Religious Practices and the Internet

Deadline for abstract submissions: SEPTEMBER 7th, 2018

Special issue edited by Fabienne Duteil-Ogata (Clare EA4596, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne / IIAC [EHESS/CNRS]) and Isabelle Jonveaux (CéSor, EHESS)

In the past few years, when tragic events have been associated with religious radicalization, the Internet has been often pointed out. For instance, for fundamentalist groups such as Daesh or Al Qaida, digital social networks may be an opportunity to recruit people beyond geographical borders (Udrescu 2013, Torok 2010, 2011). Nevertheless, behind such specific and highly mediatized cases, it must not be forgotten that the Internet’s uses have grown in almost any religious group, to become today something as common as unavoidable (Dawson & Cowan, 2004, Knoblauch, 2009, Campbell, 2010, Cheong et al., 2012, Jonveaux, 2013).

This special issue precisely aims at exploring how the Internet affects religion or conversely, how religion can transform digital media. These questions may be discussed at least from two standpoints. On the one hand, one can consider that religions have always used media and that there is in fact no religion without media (Krotz, 2007). This theory relies on the conceptualization of religions as communication systems. The use of digital media by religious institutions is consequently unsurprising, because throughout history and often very fast, they have invested the major communication developments, such as the printing press in the Middle Age (Eisenstein, 2005 [1983]) or telephone and then television since the end of the 19th century (Sastre Santos, 1997). In this perspective, digital media has brought nothing really new to religions and what is observed online is nothing but an extension or the reflection of the current trends related to religious matters and its modernity (Jonveaux, 2013). On the other hand, the opposite position considers that new media transform both religions’ contents and practices (Hjarvard, 2013). They lead precisely to the creation of new religious forms or “cyberreligions” (Hojsgaard, 2005) in which religious institutions as well as religious practices exist only online, like in the case The Church of the Blind Chihuahua or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for example, even though some of these religions have clearly a parodic dimension (Obadia, 2015). In this perspective, the Internet can be seen as a tool that has carried something original and exclusive to the practice of religions, far from only reproducing online offline practices.

To go beyond these seemingly antithetical approaches, a solution may be to go back to the classic categories of the sociology of religion and ask how much the Internet has (or not) transformed them. Simultaneously, this implies to lead empirical studies dedicated to the description of religions as lived by online users or to the religious institutions which observe and integrate digital uses to a certain extent. For this special issue, we have therefore identified at least four research directions (detailed below) in which potential contributors could inscribe their article proposals.

Areas of research/submissions  (please write the editors for details)

  1. Rituals, Worship, Prayers and Celebrations

  2. Identities, Belongings, Avatars and Communities

  3. Asceticism, Fasting and Prohibitions

  4. Conversion, Education and Transmission

Calendar and practical information

The abstracts (500 words maximum) are due by September 7th, 2018. They should be sent to the following address:

Proposals may be written either in English or in French, and should state the research question, the methodology, and the theoretical framework. They will focus on the scientific relevance of the proposed article in light of the existing literature and the call for papers, and may be accompanied by a short bibliography. We also would like to draw the authors’ attention to a special section in the journal called “Revisiting the Classics”, devoted to new readings of classical authors and theories in the context of digital media: for this special issue, papers centered on the re-exploration of classical authors and categories from the social sciences of religion will be particularly appreciated.

The abstracts will be reviewed anonymously by the issue editors and the members of the journal editorial board. Authors of submissions selected at this stage will be asked to e-mail their full papers by November 12th, 2018 for another double-blind peer review evaluation.

The journal RESET also accepts submissions for its “Varia” section, open to scholarly works in the Humanities and Social Sciences dealing with Internet-related objects or methods of research.

Calendar :

Deadline for abstract submission (500 words maximum, plus references): September 7th, 2018.

Responses to authors: September 20th, 2018.

Deadline for full papers (6 000 to 10 000 words, plus references): November 12th, 2018.


Editorial board