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Well-founded insights into the dynamic relationship between religion and digital media practices—on individual, communal and societal levels—and their potential for conflict resolution and fostering dialogue within religious plurality and diversity are imperative for a meaningful way of life and for peaceful coexistence in today's society, in Switzerland and in a global context.
It is not just since the era of COVID-19 that questions of religion and spirituality, ways of life and existential questions of meaning have become essential topics in digital practices of communication, interaction and transformation. In its initial phase (2021–2024), the URPP examines the practices, challenges, risks and opportunities of "Digital Religion" in today's globally networked society—in both the Swiss and the international context.
The overarching goal is (1) to identify the cultural, political and societal capabilities of religion and its diverse communicative practices in digital society, (2) to analyze religious and technologically influenced formations of identity and community, (3) to ascertain claims to authority and authenticity on the digital market of meaning creation and their possible risks, and (4) to explore the constructive contributions of digital religious practice for individuals, communities and society.
The title "Digital Religion(s)" signals that we will consider, on the one hand, the plurality of diverse religious traditions and institutions and, on the other hand, will explore religious practices and forms of community building outside of firmly established religious formations.
The dynamics of digital religious communication, interaction and transformation will be investigated in terms of their legal and ethical contexts using well-founded theoretical-hermeneutic and empirical approaches and in interdisciplinary and international collaborations. In the initial phase, the URPP is developing the terminological, substantive and methodological foundations for targeted research in the consortium as a whole. This work is divided into two modules (A: "Internal Dynamics" and B: "External Dynamics") with twelve individual subprojects (P1–P12), involving collaboration among researchers from the fields of theology, religious studies, linguistics and computational linguistics, sociology, media and communication studies and law.
Through this network of interdisciplinary collaboration in research—and thus an academic culture of networked digital religion research—the field of "Digital Religion," which has been developing for twenty years in various international contexts, is significantly advanced, intensified, and made visible in innovative ways within and beyond the academic public.