Charles Ess charles.ess at gmail.com
Fri Feb 19 13:14:45 PST 2010

Dear AoIRists,
Following is a somewhat abbreviated call for chapters -  my guess is that
most AoIRists will likely be interested (if at all) in Section III.
A complete version of the call is happily available on request from either
me or Pauline Hope Cheong.
As usual, please distribute widely and as is appropriate.

Call for Papers for Edited Book on
Editors: Pauline Hope Cheong, Peter Fischer-Nielsen, Stefan Gelfgren and
Charles Ess 
Background and Rationale
This book brings together, for the first time in five years, a collection of
key articles in the area of religion and the Internet, particularly as new
media relates to church, mission and interfaith dialogue. In light of the
increasing mediation of everyday life in many parts of the world, this book
approaches online religion with a fresh perspective, to account for
contemporary developments in media and spirituality, with implications for
faith and other civic organizations.
Arguably, as institutionalized religions and movements rush to leverage the
Web to improve their reach, religious communication on the Internet takes an
increasingly significant role alongside more traditional venues for such
discourse.  It may be, however, that religious use associated with new media
problematizes established faith rituals, and religious community building in
both its conception and operationalization. Changes in the Church can also
be conceived as intertwined with a range of other forms of social and
political developments, such that new media acts as an agent and practice to
challenge and transform the influence and authority of the Church.
Furthermore, as ³new² media is a moving target, there may be past concepts
that are more able to explain the nature of church life (such as evangelical
mission and systematic theology) or new concepts that are being developed
that are better able to address the diversity and complexity of contemporary
social and religious life (such as the ideas of social networking, viral
marketing and church branding).
This edited collection aims to address and inform such issues and debates by
offering new empirical, theoretical, and theological insights into how
religious life continues to transform and be transformed by these new
communication technologies.  Current contributors, together with the
editors, include Knut Lundby, Heidi Campbell, Mark Johns and Jørgen
We hereby invite proposals for additional chapters (particularly in the
historical and theological sections as explained below) that will complement
and expand upon these contributions.
Section 1: Theoretical Approaches
This section maps the range of theoretical perspectives on religion and new
media. A number of different theories have proven useful for researchers and
scholars ­ but new media also challenge our theoretical frameworks and
categories.  How far do current theories ³work² in helping us research and
understand the complex interactions between religious life and new media ­
and how far are new theoretical understandings needed?  And: what might
these new theoretical understandings ³look like² ­ i.e., are new theoretical
frameworks and categories available that have yet to be fully explored by
scholars and researchers that can be argued to be potentially fruitful?
Section II: Historical Perspectives
This section discusses the presence and significance of historical
perspectives in church and new media research. Transformations in
communication media are deeply interwoven with the history and theology of
Christianity. In light of this history, how do churches respond to the
continued expansion of contemporary communication media? For example, given
the close correlations between distinctive forms and modalities of
communication ­ including the broad categories of orality, literacy, print,
and the secondary orality/literacy of electronic media ­ and conceptions of
self, community, and institutional authority, what does this history suggest
regarding the possible implications and challenges of contemporary shifts
towards new media?
Section III: Empirical Investigations
This section reports on the empirical research studies that investigate
emerging media and social media practices related to the Church. Disciplines
represented include but are not restricted to: sociology of religion,
ethnography and online ethnography, linguistics, and the social sciences and
humanities more broadly as represented within the field of computer-mediated
communication. Contributions may focus on, but not restricted to,
contemporary uses (successful and not so successful) of new media in the
life of religious communities (local, national, international). Guiding
questions for such research and studies include: Do the possibilities and
affordances of new media lead to genuinely new and demonstrable impacts on
the life of congregations?  What factors appear to accompany whether or not
a given community or institution embraces or resists specific media? What
factors are at work in both successes and failures for faith believers and
organizations to adopt and adapt to new media? How does religiously related
new media use interact or affect the offline practices of established
religious organizations?
Section IV: Theological Reflections
The last section of the book provides theological reflections on the
Internet, to forward the development of a theology of the Internet which is
a budding field of research. Although practical perspectives and guidelines
for Internet use have been published, a more thorough theological analysis
of new media is missing. The need for theological clarification is apparent
since web-enabled applications challenge churches with a number of difficult
Submission Details
Please submit a 500-700 word abstract (including important and initial
references) to the editors as an email attachment to
<churchnewmedia at yahoo.com> no later than April 15, 2010. Authors of accepted
abstracts will be notified by May 31, 2010, and will then be invited to
submit a full paper to the editors. Final manuscripts should be no more than
6,500 words, including notes and references, prepared in APA style.
Important Dates:
April 15, 2010 Deadline for abstract submission
May 31, 2010 Announcement of results and full paper invitations
August 31, 2010 Submission of full papers
Inquiries should be addressed to:
Pauline Hope Cheong
Associate Professor of Communication
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
P.O. Box 871205, Stauffer Hall 462 Tempe, AZ 85287-1205
Arizona State University
Pauline.cheong at asu.edu

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