Public Religion and Public Scholarship in the Digital Age

The Center for Media, Religion and Culture has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a project titled “Public Religion and Public Scholarship in the Digital Age.” This three-year-long research project will run from January 2017 to December 2019. It will develop a working group of scholars from North America and Europe to conduct research and focus on the ways that the public mediation of scholarship can enhance scholarly understanding of religion in the media age. It will also involve a significant dimension of public scholarship focused on the circulations and collaborations among scholars that the digital age makes possible. The project builds on and will enhance the center’s work and reputation for fieldwork and theoretical reflection on the meaning of the digital age for the evolution of religion and circulations of religious knowledge and understanding. Please see the Request for Proposals for the the development and maintenance of an online platform for this research project. 

The Media Ambivalence Project

This project aims to broaden our understanding of cultural and technological convergence by exploring "media ambivalence,” namely, the reluctance of individuals and communities to embrace the so-called “digital imperative” whole heartedly, sometimes in limited, personal ways or in ideologically articulated practices. Beginning with the assumption that media ambivalence is implicated in technological and cultural convergence we study it as an integral part of those processes. Through a comparative analysis of media ambivalence in the U.S. and Israel, in partnership with the University of Haifa, we hope to gain a broader perspective as to the ways in which individuals and communities situate themselves along the continuum that spans from non-users to ambivalent media users, how these positions are practiced in daily life and how they are accounted for in discourse.

Our analysis is based on 35 transcribed ethnographic interviews of families, collected since January 2013. The families are ethnically, religiously and economically diverse. The interviews serve as data to examine the deliberate and reflexive negotiation between the ubiquity of media, social pressures on incorporating media in child rearing and deep convictions about media usage–political, cultural, ethical and religious.