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Title: Hinduism and the Internet : a sociological study
Author: Scheifinger, Heinz
ISNI:       0000 0001 3554 9448
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2006
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This study provides a contribution to the sociology of religion by examining the relationship between Hinduism and the Internet - an area largely neglected by scholars of religion and the Internet. A theoretical discussion as to the suitability of cyberspace for Hinduism - which concludes that there is a high level of compatibility - is followed by a discussion of embodiment (a relatively neglected topic in sociology) in Hinduism in order to assess whether online religious activity which does not require full embodiment could be problematic. Although there is no natural fit between Hinduism and online religious activity, such activity is extensive; and this gives rise to a number of empirical research questions about online practices and their implications for Hinduism 'offline'. Empirical research was carried out both online and 'offline'. Online, data was obtained through the utilisation of innovative research methods which were able to map Hinduism on the WWW and uncover the processes that are occurring. An important finding was that a relatively small number of Hindu organisations are effectively monopolising Hinduism online. Significant websites were also analysed. 'Offline', research was carried out at mandirs (Hindu Temples) in India. The prime research method used was the semi-structured interview. The informants were high-ranking mandir officials. Owners of web sites offering a puja (ritual honouring a deity) service were also interviewed. The online and 'offline' research did not constitute discrete lines of enquiry, and findings were analysed together in the light of sociological theories of embodiment and globalisation, and rational choice theory. These theories contribute to the understanding of processes that are occurring in Hinduism and, in turn, the findings suggested revisions of the theoretical ideas. The main conclusion is that despite globalisation and the pre-eminent role that the Internet plays in it - contrary to the assertions of some globalisation theorists -local sites of Hindu practice do not necessarily decline in importance. Instead, there is an interpenetration of the local and the global as a result of online Hinduism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BL Religion ; HM Sociology