|تعداد مشاهده مقاله||111,513,630|
|تعداد دریافت فایل اصل مقاله||86,149,009|
Religiosity and Cyberspace: A Meta-Analysis on the Studies of Religion and Cyberspace
|Journal of Cyberspace Studies|
|مقاله 4، دوره 2، شماره 2، مهر 2018، صفحه 205-228 اصل مقاله (702.15 K)|
|نوع مقاله: Original article|
|شناسه دیجیتال (DOI): 10.22059/jcss.2018.254328.1015|
|Mohammad Javad Chitsaz* 1؛ Mohammad Hosseini Moghaddam2|
|1Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, ACECR Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Iran|
|2Ph.D. of Culture and Communications, ACECR Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Iran|
|This paper focuses on the impact of cyberspace on religiosity in Iran through reviewing previous studies. The situation of religion in the age of the internet has always been a major matter of concern for Iranian scholars and policy makers. Accordingly, there have been many researchers who have addressed and approached this problem but there has been no comprehensive understanding of the impact of the internet on religiosity, as no comparative study has been conducted to date. This paper applies meta-analysis as the method for reviewing previous attempts while trying to gather all the data by classifying problems, methods, theoretical approaches and more importantly their results. The outcome of this study is to indicate the impact of cyberspace on religiosity and religious identity, apart from classifying and clarifying the status of religiosity in Iran. Having a stronger religious identity causes less online misbehaviors like searching and engaging in pornography. It also indicates using cyberspace for recreational purposes compared to using it for communication or gathering information etc. makes the users more likely to have a weaker religious identity.|
|cyberspace؛ Iran؛ Meta-analysis؛ Religiosity؛ Religious identity|
It is true that technology can change a society. During the last century, we have come to know its positive and negative effects. Likewise, the effect of the internet and its capacity to create easy access to information on political, economic, social and cultural fields and low-price communications on is undeniable. This makes us focus more on the different dimensions of modern media and technological tools. Furthermore, it highlights the necessity of planning for the cultural and social effects of digital media and modern information and communication technologies in a way to be fit with national and religious values along with cultural and social capita of the country. Such planning should also take the standards and schemes of Islamic Republic of Iran into account as embodied in the Islamic-Iranian model of progress. Such necessity becomes more significant if we regard the development of technologies provide both opportunities and threats that can transform cultural and social shifts in the society.
The man of the current age lives in a world of constant shifts and changes (Giddens, 1374: 555). In such an age, the most fascinating phenomena may be the high velocity of social changes (Lenski & Lesnki, 1369: 3). The process of social changes has such a speed and depth that it has even affected the most stable arenas of human life: culture. This has left us in the middle of a drastic cultural change. Information and communication technology has entered the social life of human beings and has affected our societies with varying degrees. According to Castells (1380: 48), modern technologies of information and communication have linked remote parts of world and the computer-mediate communication has shaped a set of cyber societies which as a result can alter all the material and non-material structures of human life. Through advent and development of communication industry and then the internet as a communication and information network, there came a new space in human life which can be called cyberspace or the second space. The development of communication and information technology has caused drastic changes in human life. It has made human beings face a new world in a way that many scholars believe understanding the real world away from the cyber world and vice versa afflicts the observation with too many faults and defects. Indeed, the cyber world has now become a rival for real world and it has been said that the most important change in the current world which will create a foundation for the changes in the upcoming world is the process of competitiveness between the real and the virtual world (Ameli, 1386: 45).
The internet is a vast and complicated world in which many groups and individuals with different believes and tendencies are present. They live there. Here using the verb "live" is not a mistake because this cyber world affects the existence and beliefs of human beings simultaneously and coherently with the real world. The internet is where an individual can export his or her real-world-activities into. Among the prominent features of this cyberspace, one can point to it being timeless and placeless. Omission of distance in time and place along with increase in potentials of exchange and transformation has altered the processes of identification and religiosity (Montazerghaem, 1381: 23).
Recently, all the societies have experienced different levels of expansion of information technologies and online media. The growing use of terms like globalization, cyber communities, information society and cyberspace indicates that during recent years the information technology has provided a new formation for social life. Understanding the changes caused by Man-Internet interaction -which is now prevailing our life- has gradually become one of the most important concerns of social scientists, policy makers and planners of the societies. Another important issue is the association between religion and religious culture with modern technologies which has become a main matter of concern in the Iranian society. Recently, scholars whose fields of study are culture, religion or media have all faced common problems. They have become interested in studying the nature of the internet, religious culture and possible alignments and contradictions between these two. Islam has always had a prominent position in Iran for that religiosity has always been a defining character for Iranian culture, society and history. This even highlights more, the importance of studying the process of alteration in religiosity in contemporary Iran. No doubt the modern media has a great effect on this issue. Because of its popularity and spread, because authorities can have limited control over it, cyberspace and social networks have become an exclusive means for communication. They have created a context in which they can apply their ability to influence others. The users utilize the social networks in accordance to their religious needs and the same way, the utilization of social network influences their style of religiosity, increasing their flexibility about different religious interpretations. On the other hand, online social networks work as a supplier for many cultural and social demands from their members and by rapid diffusing of new values and ideas can cause severe challenges in foundations of identity in different societies. In the last two decades, the field of cyberspace studies has been developed in Iran through the publication of dozens of studies. Providing an explicit and scientific image and classification of such studies can create an important basis for policy makers. Meta-analysis of the studies of cyberspace and religiosity can depict the aggregation of knowledge about this issue in Iran. By combining former studies, novel ideas and approaches can be suggested to authorities and policy makers whose work involve either cyberspace, religion or both.
Over the vast realm of the internet, users become exposed to various semantic and identifying structures and become informed about many emerging values, beliefs and norms which may have different effects on them. The usage and applications of the internet for religious people are numerous. The internet has changed the understanding of contemporary man from the ideas of subjectivity, society and agency. Scholars like O'leary believe that the development of the internet has had an important role in the expansion of religiosity (Hecht, 2006: 17). However, there are positive (utopian) and negative (dystopian) views about this phenomenon.
Computer-based communication has provided new facilities for religion, religious associations and religious figures, but it must be noted that the concept of the internet for religious people may be different from others. Some may consider it as blessed gift which can be used for spreading religiosity, some may consider it just as a simple tool and some may have very negative views about it and there are pessimists, who consider the internet as something which simultaneously weakens religious societies, disturbs religious traditions and turns the holy into something routine and mundane.
Religion has a great role in the personal and social life of human beings. The historical experience of human life has shown that religion is an inseparable part of life. The oldest civilizations whose archeological reminiscence were ever recorded also had a religion or a cult of some kind. During the history of human civilization there has never been a clan or tribe with no religion or faith. Even the aboriginals of Australia and Indians of Patagonia who have the most primitive style of human life believe in the existence of a spiritual world and have their own prayers (Hume, 1369: 17).
Religiosity is the manifestation of religion in daily life and has attracted many thinkers, policy-makers and researchers. The vast literature on religiosity supports this theory. The importance of religion highlights the need for operationalizing religiosity in researches. To define religiosity, Shojaeezand (1384: 36) has mentioned that being religious is a general label which can be attributed to any person or phenomenon in which religious values and its signs are detectable. A religious person, on one hand, forces himself to regard and respect religious rulings and on the other hand, paying such attention to religion and religious responsibilities makes him different from other people. Accordingly, that person can be defined in two ways; firstly, through his adherence and commitment to religion and secondly, through the outcomes of committing to religion in one’s thoughts and actions.
Testing the level of religiosity has always been a matter of concern for the researchers of this field and they have reached to two different approaches. In the first approach, researchers believe that although the contents and teachings are different in different religions but religiosity means the same for followers of different religions. Accordingly, to test the level of religiosity, a single model can be used for all of them. Glock and Stark’s model for measuring religiosity belongs to this approach. In contrast, the second approach asserts that for different societies or at least for followers of different religions, a different model of measuring religiosity should be used. Shojaeezand’s model for measuring religiosity in Iran is the first attempt to create a special model for testing Iranian religiosity which obviously follows the second approach. Analyzing researches on religiosity in Iran shows that researchers have used one of the following models:
This paper applies a method of meta-synthesis to answer the mentioned questions and reach the proposed objectives. For the present study, the statistical population is consisted of all of the existing studies that have focused on "religiosity and cyberspace". The studies were gathered through browsing data bases of scientific papers and Iranian Journal data bases i.e Noormag and IranDoc for keywords like "cyberspace", "religious identity", "religiosity" and "online social networks". In order to complete the paper a research in different libraries and institutes was also undertaken. After reviewing the gathered documents, 30 were chosen based on their relevance with the subject and the goals of the present study. These documents were summarized and categorized based on five basic factors of: 1. their general descriptions, 2. their objectives and questions, 3. their methods of study, 4. their variables and 5. their findings.
Table 1 shows the list of the selected documents.
Table 1. Description of the selected researches
Table 2. The description of the method applied by the researchers
The Frequency and Time Laps of the Studies
The studies were conducted during 2006-2017. These studies were divided in three time periods and show that most of the studies were carried out between 2011 and 2015. Only ten percent of the studies were carried out during 2006-2010. The remaining 20% were more recent.
Table 3. Time periods of the selected studies
There was a rush towards studying the associations between religiosity and cyberspace in more recent years. One of the reasons is the increasing rate of internet and mobile-mediated networking in this decade. According to a report published by ICT indicators monitoring system, a subset of Iran's ICT Organization, about 62% of Iranian families have access to the internet which means that there is internet access in 15,051,384 households of Iran. In 2015 this percentage was about 55.5%. There has been a 7% growth in accessing the internet in two years.
Geographical Scope of the Researches
Tehran has been the main focus of existing researches conducted in this field. About 23% of the researches have studied the question of religiosity and cyberspace in Tehran while Tabriz and Isfahan stand in e second and third place.
Table 4. Geographical scope of the selected researches
Categorizing the Studied Topics
Reviewing the topics of research indicate that “the impact of cyberspace on religiosity” has been the main focus of the researchers. 56.7% of the studies were dedicated to this topic. “Social Identity” was another topic that the researchers paid attention to. About 23.3% of the selected researches have studied the impact of cyberspace on social identity.
Table 5. Topics highlighted in the selected researches (religiosity)
Studying the topics of researches in the field of cyberspace indicates that investigating the ‘Internet’ has been the main focus of the researchers which contains 46.7% of the selected studies. Online social networks at 40% are in next place. It must be noted that most of the studies on social networking chose Facebook as their case of study.
Table 6. Topics highlighted in the selected researches (Cyberspace)
Quantitative method was the main method used by the researchers at 96.7%. All the researches applied survey method and questionnaires for collecting data.
Table 7. Methods applied in the selected researches
Most of the studies focused on the young generation. Even the studies whose statistical populations were members of social networks targeted the youth.
Table 8. Statistical population of the selected researches
Theoretical Approaches of the Researches
Analyzing the theories applied in the selected researches indicate that theories of “uses and gratifications”, “cultivation”, Giddens' “Structuration and reflective identity” and Castells' “networked society” have the most frequency. Theoretical views of thinkers like Robertson, Fukuyama, Irving Kaufman (The presentation of self in everyday life), Stuart Hall (Representations), Peter Berger, Richard Jenkins, Daniel Bell (Information society as the post-industrialization), Jurgen Habermas and Denis McQuail were used in these studies. It must be noted that listing the theories of others does not necessary mean that this study has applied such theories. In a number of the selected researches the theories were just reviewed in order to extract the required variables.
The Approach for Measuring Terms
Studying the selected researches indicates that the two terms of “cyberspace” and “religiosity” Were the main focus of prior studies. Below we discuss how these terms were measured.
Most of the studies applied the localized model of Glock and Stark. Sometimes all the dimensions introduced in this model were used and sometimes only a selection were applied. The studies the focus was on the impact of social networks on social and religious identity. Religious identity is a subset of social identity. ‘Religious identity’ and ‘religiosity’ were used interchangeably.
Reviewing the selected studies indicates that cyberspace was measured by the following factors:
By analyzing the results of the selected studies, the following statements can be made:
This study tried to present a comprehensive description and understanding of studies conducted on cyberspace and religiosity in Iran. These studies indicate that the growth of internet usage is inevitable. The results of a survey, household access and use of internet in 2016, show 13.5 million households or 55.5% of all of the Iranian households can access the internet. Comparing the results of the recent four surveys indicates that internet penetration rate in 2016 increased by 30.33%, 24.4%, 29.4% and 15.3% respectively compared to 2007, 2009 and 2013. A survey on users of online social networks in Iran also indicates the increasing trend of using social networks in Iran in a way that today among 200 million users of Telegram, there are 40 million Iranians.
Such drastic increase in internet usage became a matter of concern for Iranian researchers and scholars. Consequently, during the last decade, many studies were conducted to study the impact of cyberspace on different aspects of social life of Iranians. One of the areas of interest in cyberspace studies is its association with religiosity. In recent years many of religious figures have expressed their concerns about the negative aspects of cyberspace on religiosity. Here we can summarize the outcome of our analysis on existing studies:
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