Event Title

Internet Religion: Community Formation on Wiccan Web Sites

Mentor 1

Dr. Michael Baltutis

Location

Union 260

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:00 PM

Description

An Examination of Community Formation on Wiccan Websites / / A common element of religion is the act of gathering for worship and study as a community. Sociologists have long considered close human interaction to be fundamental to community; and Durkheim wrote that the presence of collective effervescence was fundamental to religion. However, research has shown that an increasing number of people are turning to the Internet for their religious and spiritual experiences. Could cyberspace become a new sacred space not unlike that which churches and temples have provided for thousands of years? This freedom from the brick and mortar locations has also sparked an increase in new religions. One such religion is Wicca, an Earth-based Neo-Pagan practice that has experienced explosive growth on the Web. With relatively few offline groups, the majority of Wiccans experience most of their contact with each other online. This paper explored how people might experience collective effervescence when they only know each other as an avatar and words exchanged on the computer screen and factors such as active discussion threads and chat room rituals are replacing the face-to-face experiences of offline communities. By examining interactive Wiccan Websites, this research identified the factors that members consider important to an online religious community. /

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Apr 24th, 2:00 PM

Internet Religion: Community Formation on Wiccan Web Sites

Union 260

An Examination of Community Formation on Wiccan Websites / / A common element of religion is the act of gathering for worship and study as a community. Sociologists have long considered close human interaction to be fundamental to community; and Durkheim wrote that the presence of collective effervescence was fundamental to religion. However, research has shown that an increasing number of people are turning to the Internet for their religious and spiritual experiences. Could cyberspace become a new sacred space not unlike that which churches and temples have provided for thousands of years? This freedom from the brick and mortar locations has also sparked an increase in new religions. One such religion is Wicca, an Earth-based Neo-Pagan practice that has experienced explosive growth on the Web. With relatively few offline groups, the majority of Wiccans experience most of their contact with each other online. This paper explored how people might experience collective effervescence when they only know each other as an avatar and words exchanged on the computer screen and factors such as active discussion threads and chat room rituals are replacing the face-to-face experiences of offline communities. By examining interactive Wiccan Websites, this research identified the factors that members consider important to an online religious community. /