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Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion

16 November 12

16th November 2012, Enterprise Centre, University of Derby

Organised by the Centre for Society, Religion & Belief (SRB), University of Derby

 Funded by Digital Social Research (DSR)

Within an era of a growing reliance on digital technologies to instantly and effectively express our values, allegiances, and multi-faceted identities, the interest in digital research methodologies among Sociologists of Religion comes as no surprise (e.g. Bunt 2009; Cantoni and Zyga 2007; Contractor 2012 and Ostrowski 2006; Taylor 2003). However the methodological challenges associated with such research have been given significantly less attention. What are the epistemological underpinnings and rationale for the use ‘digital’ methodologies? What ethical dilemmas do sociologists face, including while protecting participants’ interests in digital contexts that are often perceived as anonymised and therefore ‘safe’? Implementing such ‘digital’ research also leads to practical challenges such as mismatched expectations of IT skills, limited access to specialized tools, project management and remote management of research processes.

Hosted by the Centre for Society, Religion, and Belief at the University of Derby and funded by Digital Social Research, this conference will bring together scholars to critically evaluate the uses, impacts, challenges and future of Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion. We envisage that the conference will lead to an edited textbook and are currently in discussion with key publishers. For the purpose of the conference and textbook, digital research is broadly defined as research that either works within digital contexts or which uses either online or offline digital tools. Abstracts for papers that focus on one, or more, of the following themes are invited:

  1. Epistemological Positioning
  2. Ethical Dilemmas
  3. Implementation & Practical Challenges
  4. Wider impacts beyond Academia

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, as well as the title of the paper, name of the presenter, institutional affiliation, and contact details to Dr Sariya Contractor (s.contractor@derby.ac.uk) and Dr. Suha Shakkour (s.shakkour@derby.ac.uk) by 5pm on Tuesday 28th August, 2012. Shortlisted participants will be notified by 11th September 2012 and will be expected to submit summary papers (1000 words) by 1st November 2012 for circulation prior to the conference. A registration fee of £30 will apply for all speakers and delegates. A few travel bursaries are available for post-graduate students. Further details about the registration process will be circulated by mid-August.2012.

Dr Contractor is the researcher on the Religion and Society-funded project Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales and spoke about this research at the Non-Religious Identities in Policy and Practice workshop co-funded by Religion and Society in April 2012. Listen to her presentation here.

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