Digitalization and the Catholic community

Dr Ewa Stachowska, Institute of Social Prevention and Resocialization, University of Warsaw.

In the springtime the Polish team is focused on work in two main areas. The first one is to prepare an article entitled Digitalization and the Catholic religious community in Poland, which revolves around the role and meaning of the process of digitalization in the Catholic community. The article includes an analysis of the preliminary results of the qualitative research conducted in this community. The Catholic Church is the largest denomination in Poland, hence the first of the articles presents results concerning this community. The process of digitalization is widespread in our times, and although in the Catholic community in Poland it is noticeable that not only the direct contact is approved of, the popularity of traditional media (such as the radio and TV) is also more visible, as it performed a crucial role in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital tools have been (and still are) a form of facilitating communication and information flow in the Catholic community. However, they are identified by the respondents as an instrument shaping the “digital sacred” to a smaller degree. It is worth noting that the aforementioned direction of perceiving digital tools is more noticeable among the older generations than among the young. What is more, the Catholic community in Poland is successively becoming a “senior community”, as secularization is accelerating especially among young people (which is shown in numerous research, e.g. carried out by PEW Research Center, CBOS – Public Opinion Research Center, ESS). An interesting thread emerging from the conducted research, which will undergo a broader analysis, is the fact that on the linguistic level the respondents perceive taking part in media rituals as “viewing”. This indicates a specific “oversimplification”, or even “trivialization” (cf. N. Postman) of participation in the media liturgy.

The second area of work undertaken by the Polish team concerns the preparation of papers for the 7th International Congress of Religious Studies, which will be held in Gdynia (Poland) from 19th-21st June 2024.[1] The Congress is a cyclical event in the circle of specialists of religious studies in Poland. This year its subject is: Religions. Tradition and Modernity. The engagement of the team during the Congress involves: participating in the scientific committee, coordinating the section of: Transformations of Religiosity and Non-religiosity in Sociological Research by Ewa Stachowska, delivering a paper entitled Minority Religious Communities and Digitalization in Poland. Moreover, arrangements are being made concerning the organization of a discussion panel Religion and Digitalization during the Congress.


[1] https://www.ptr.edu.pl/index.php/o-towarzystwie/aktualnosci/item/172-vii-miedzynarodowy-kongres-religioznawczy

Call for Papers – Recovira Conference

Religious Communities in the Virtual Age:  Practices, Values, Technologies, Boundaries 

28 October 2024, Manchester, England 

Keynote Speaker: Prof Linda Woodhead, King’s College London. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, religious communities across Europe and the world have engaged with the digital world and specific digital technologies in a wide variety of ways. Some have embraced online worship and gathering as a tool for widening or enriching a sense of community. Others have used social media to re-think the boundaries of their work with their wider society around them or to connect with their co-religionists across the world. Still others have consciously avoided digital tools, seeing a spiritual and social potency in in-person gathering that cannot be replicated. But nearly all have had to face the new assumptions and practices of the virtual age that the pandemic made far more universal than they were before. 

How have these engagements with the technologies, practices and norms of the virtual age changed the lives of religious communities? How has it affected their sense of community, their understanding of the borders of membership, or their relationship with the wider world? What has it meant for the means and potencies of collective worship? How has it changed patterns of authority and decision making? How have notions of sacred place and time been affected by the virtual? How do communities navigate notions of ‘appropriate’ or ‘genuine’ in the context of the digital society?  

This conference will bring together scholars investigating these questions in a range of religious communities, from large and dominant ones to established minorities and marginalised or immigrant groups, and from a range of national contexts. It centres around the work of the EU-CHANSE funded project Religious Communities in the Virtual Age (recovira.org), but welcomes other scholars in dialogue with these concerns from fields such as the study of religion, sociology, theology, performance, anthropology, cultural studies and so on. While the focus is on the lives of religious communities in the post-pandemic era and papers are necessarily limited to 10-15 minutes, we are interested in case studies, comparative, and theoretical approaches.  

Please note: This conference will take place in central Manchester. Conference fees, which will include a catered lunch, will be kept to a minimum (under £20). In-person attendance will be limited by the size of the venue. While offsite, online presentation will not be possible for this conference, it will be streamed for those who wish to watch. Online viewing will require pre-booking, which will be free.  

Abstract submissions are due 10th May 2024 

We hope to notify applicants by 31st May 2024 

Please click here to submit an abstract.

Submit Abstract

With any questions, please contact the project team at recovira@mmu.ac.uk

This conference is sponsored by the Performance Research Group, Manchester Metropolitan University. 

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