Project: Religious Communities in the Virtual Age

Acronym ReCoVirA (Reference Number: CHANSE-481)
Project Topic While, historically, religious life has been something of a refuge from the digitalisation of European society, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. The social restrictions imposed by the pandemic rapidly accelerated religious communities’ embrace of digital tools and structures in order to continue their essential social and psychological work during this crisis. As our preliminary research has shown, these developments have opened up new and productive possibilities for how European religion is done, and so these developments are likely to persist long after the pandemic has ended. But exactly what the consequences of this rapid digitalisation of religious life in Europe will be, for majority and minority traditions, requires further research. How will issues such as religious authority, community belonging and membership, the (digital) sense of sacred place, the making of meaningful and affectively potent rituals, and the relationship of religious communities to the wider public sphere change when those communities exist primarily, or even completely, in the digital realm? This project brings together scholars from seven European countries with backgrounds in the sociology of religion, anthropology, digital religion, performance studies, and allied disciplines to address these questions. The primary method will be ethnography, including both traditional and digital methods. We will conduct ethnographic research on mainstream, long-established minority, and emergent or newly-built religious communities in our countries in a way that facilitates both ethnographic depth and international comparability. To add to this, we will (a) review and analyse large-scale social surveys of European experience of and engagement with religion and the digital, (b) conduct a social and broadcast media analysis of changing coverage of religion in response to the pandemic, and (c) conduct an aesthetic analysis of online and hybrid rituals with the tools of performance studies.
Network CHANSE
Call Transformations: Social and Cultural Dynamics in the Digital Age

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Manchester Metropolitan University Coordinator United Kingdom
2 Goethe University Partner Germany
3 Södertörn University Partner Sweden
4 University of Warsaw Partner Poland
5 University of Ljubljana Partner Slovenia
6 Aarhus University Partner Denmark
7 Åbo Akademi University Partner Finland
8 JCM - The Standing Conference of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe Observer Germany
9 Church Research Institute, Evangelical Luther Church of Finland Observer Finland
10 Department of Church Development, Roman Catholic Diocese of Limburg, Hesse Observer Germany
11 National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland Observer Finland
12 Foundation PSC Observer Poland
13 Forum for Culture and Religion FOKUS Observer Finland
14 The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) Observer United Kingdom
15 Polish Association for the Study of Religions Observer Poland
16 Rat der Religionen - Frankfurt (Council of Religions - Frankfurt Observer Germany
17 United Evangelical Mission Observer India
18 The Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture Observer Finland
19 Bendorferforum für Ökumenische Begegnung und Interreligiösen Dialog E.V. Observer Germany