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Title: An investigation of the nature of the Church through an analysis of selected email-based Christian online communities
Author: Campbell, Heidi A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis investigates Christian online communities, with special emphasis on studying the nature of community and the Internet. The purpose is to identify characteristics of community that individuals are seeking to cultivate in the online setting, showing possible implications for individuals in the “real world” church and offline communities. The key research question is: “What does online communication offer individual Christians and groups of Christian? How is the Internet changing Christians’ interaction with the real world Christian Church?” Each case study is analysed with data presented under four themes. First, The Online Community and the Online Context examined how each community used Internet technology and adapted to the online environment. Secondly, The Online Community and the Real World investigated how each community links online experiences with real world activities. Thirdly, The Online Community as a Community considered how each online group develops unique patterns of behaviour and a common identity. Finally, The Online Community Reflects on the Church demonstrated how members critique the real world Church community through the positive characteristics of online community they experienced. Through this study three conclusions are drawn. First, online involvement is not causing people to leave their local church or shy away from real world participation. Secondly, people join online communities primarily for relationships not information; relationships often noted as lacking in the offline Church. Thirdly, member’s descriptions of online community and reasons they give for online involvement provide a critique of the real world Church. Also the attributes of online community highlighted (relationship, care, value, consistent communication and in-depth/intimate communications) offer a picture of what individuals hope Christian community and the Church to be like.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available