Paradigms of the Religious Network Society


Network society
digital media
religious participation

How to Cite

Bajan, A. (2015). Paradigms of the Religious Network Society. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 7(1), 9–15.


Beginning in the early 1970’s with the invention of the microprocessor, mass use of information technologies worldwide coincided with the appearance of a nodally-linked network of digital interconnectivity, or ‘network society’ (Castells, 1996). The network society’s exponential growth correlates with a rise in use of digital networking media by various sects and denominations of the Christian religion. Today, growing numbers of Christian organizations integrate digital media into both their approach to worship and the dissemination of the Holy Scriptures. This paper argues that the use of digital media by these organizations is indicative of the creation of a “religious network society†exhibiting identical structural paradigms to Castells’ (1996) network society. By virtue of the media deployed within it, the ‘religious network society’ fosters a mass culture of digital participation characterized by a rapid fragmentation of religious messaging and an over-sharing of personal religious beliefs. However, the religious network society also erodes Christianity’s hierarchical structures of authority (Turner, 2007). It is argued that these structures are being replaced with a banal form of religion emphasizing spirituality and individual self-expression at the expense of tradition (Campbell, 2012; Hjarvard, 2013). Moreover, purpose alterations to Christianity’s authority structures and approach to worship are indicative of a much larger shift in the religion, in which rising digital media use may in fact imply a decline in Christianity’s societal influence.