Participatory or Vicarious? When Networked Belonging Challenges Networks of Belonging

Knut Lundby

Abstract


Networks of belonging are still, for most people, rooted in offline interactions and identifications. However, online activities nurture new forms of networked belonging that may challenge existing patterns of belonging. People’s relations to organized religion in Europe may throw light on the dynamics. There are, of course, participatory forms of religion but also a ‘vicarious religion’ where the majority let the few active keep the network of belonging on their behalf. What happens when relations to religious sites and access to religious resources are made available in new online forms? The online/offline interfaces of vicarious and participatory religion are explored with four cases within the framework set by the Church of Norway: a ‘net church’, a web site with symbolic resources for religious education of children, a regular congregation, and a meeting place for Norwegians abroad. This leads to a proposed general typology on access to symbolic resources from networked sites, as a stepping-stone for further research on networked belonging and networks of belonging that could be applied to other cultural and social fields than the one on religion.

Keywords


Belonging Network Participatory Vicarious Religion Online/offline

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS000627