This week we are exploring the question of what constitutes community online. The argument was made in this week's chapter that in the last 50 years we have seen a change in the way community is understood an practiced. This has been a movement from people living in tightly bounded social structures, to interacting in loose social networks with varying levels of affiliation and commitment from its participants. This is exemplified in how many online communities form and function in various new media platforms.
This new understanding of community often challenges traditional religious communities, which frequently have rigid boundaries or strong hierarchical structures. Therefore there is much debate about whether an email community, social media network or a church which exists in Second Life and truly be seen as religious community. Key concerns include whether a disembodied community is problematic within certain theological context or is online gathering are disconnected from offline religion?
This week's blog should explore a specific example of a religious online community and address the following questions.
- How does this group define itself as a community?
- How do they structure or live out their form of online community?
- What might be the offline impact of this online community on their particular religious tradition?