Sunday, September 8, 2013

Case Study of Digital Religion - "Twitting Orthodoxies" Facebook Memes (Aya Yadlin-Segal)

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     As my case study, I have picked an Israeli-Jewish Facebook page named "Twitting Orthodoxies". This religious Facebook page gathers the “best of” Israeli-Jewish religious practices, community and cultural related posts, including large amount of memes. Of all the memes posted on this page, 12 were sampled, to create a representation of a full year. Thus, I sampled one meme from each month during the last year (Sep. 2012- Aug.2013) in order to include a wide array of Jewish holidays, memorial days and days of routine. The main theme of all selected memes is international/global content that combines Jewish commandments, practices, rituals, schedule, prayers and sacred texts with popular culture artifacts from around the world (i.e. art, movies, music, food, characters and organizations).
     The focus of this case study will be on user generated content (the memes) as an intercultural text that reflects a dialog between popular culture and religion. My main thesis within this context is that Jewish religion functions as an interpretive frame work that does not necessarily exclude religious Jewish people from contemporary popular discourses. On the contrary, the Jewish religion as reflected in said memes, constitute a perspective for understanding popular culture, as well as an ever changing way of life. This dialog is demonstrated by memes that, at the same time, use religion to unfold possible meanings of cultural artifact, as well as using popular culture to demonstrate an actual millennia-old history of religious practices. By this case study, I wish to demonstrate that religious identity is no longer a matter of physical or geographical presence, and is open to personal interpretation and individual construction.
     The research component of the suggested case study consists of two layers: the first, a textual analysis of the 12 memes, and the second, an ethnographic work including in-depth interviews with the memes’ prosumers (consumers that produce their own content on-line). My goal is to create a Grounded Theory method to investigate the issue of religious memes, bearing in mind my own presumptions regarding media research, influences on my own understanding of the texts as a secular new-media consumer and the interpretation, intentions and motivations of the creators of the memes.  I believe that such examination can provide a deeper understanding of online participation as a mean of constructing and maintaining a religious identity and a communal sense in a globalized world, as the memes and their creators will demonstrate the global flow of culture in a specific Jewish Israeli context. 

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