Over the past two and a half decades, Dr Campbell has been a pioneer in the study of religion and the Internet, focused on how and why Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups use certain “new” technologies and their decision-making processes surrounding those choices. She has studied questions related to the nature of community, identity, authority and authenticity online through ethnography, case studies, interviews and textual analysis.
Beginning in the 1990s her research started with the exploration of how individuals used email to form Christian communities online. Dr Campbell has gone on to study the rise of the kosher cell phone in Israel, the performance of alternative religious identities through Islamogaming, how religious apps enable individuals to create new rhythms of spiritual practice and how digital culture is changing popular notions of religion. Her current research focuses on challenges that digital media pose to traditional religious authority online and how Internet memes communicate popular assumptions about religion.
Major research papers found at: Researchgate.net | Academia.edu
Tech in Churches during Covid-19
This research project investigates the role that technology has played in church during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways digital media use have shaped the worship, outreach, and theological outlook of congregations at this time. The study draws on data collected via the Center for Congregations in Indianapolis, on approximately 2700 churches who received technology grants to facilitate online worship during the pandemic. By analyzing demographic data and narratives provided by grant awardees, the project seeks to map how and why various digital media and strategies were implemented by these churches in order to help them serve their congregations during this period of social distancing. This involves analyzing the rationale, motivation, conceptual plans, and actual implementation process related to technology undertaken by church staff and leaders at this time. The goal is to investigate the theological and social implications of these technological choices and consider the long-term impact that these might have on congregational vitality and mission.
When Internet Memes are Mean: Stereotyping the Religious Other in a Digital Age
This research investigates how popular Internet memes, digital images mixed with humorous sayings, promote stereotypes about religious group influencing perceptions of religious minorities in America. This extends her previous research on religious Internet memes, to consider the broader impact such online discussions have on public understandings of religion. The aim is to not only identify problematic messages communicated by memes, but create a framework for identifying, evaluating and re-framing digital discourses on religious diversity memes communicate.
Religious Digital Creatives and the Question of Authority in a Digital Age
This research documented the work and motivations of 150 religious digital creatives working in the USA and Europe. Digital creatives, individuals employed in tech related fields or perform digital work for religious institutions, represent both a new category of religious influencer, which can challenges established religious groups. The aim of this project was to how explore how religious authority is performed and perceived of in an age increasingly dependent on mediated digital media. The book summarizing the findings to this study, Digital Creatives and the Rethinking of Religious Authority, was published in 2020. The book offers historical interpretations of religious authority and a framework for understanding it, as well as suggests a more clarified definition. Through in-depth interviews with religious digital creatives, this work offers insight into who they are and what they do by identifying three categories of religious digital creatives: digital creatives, digital strategists, and digital spokespersons. These different roles perform a variety of tasks that inherently hold some level of religious authority.
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