Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Usages of Internet and New Media by the Romanian Seventh-Day Adventist Clergy

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Usages of Internet and New Media by the Romanian Seventh-Day Adventist Clergy

Article excerpt

Introduction

This article highlights how Internet and new media are experienced by Romanian Seventh Day Adventist pastors in their religious activity. What is the acceptance of Web 2.0 services for neo-Protestant pastors of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDAC), what uses of these technologies they make in their work, what is their mobilization for the appropriation of an innovative culture in the daily pastoral work, how these uses allow them to manage their religious activity, these are the main questions of a survey we conducted between February - April 2016 to shed light on uses of digital technology by Romanian Seventh-Day Adventist pastors.

The contributions of our research to the study of uses in the field of communication and religion and, more broadly, in the sociology of religion - considering users as actors involved in the social structure of the digital technology in the sense that they adapt by using it according to their lifestyles and to the values of the group to which they belong1 - consist of:

a) the presentation of the types of uses of digital innovation by the clergy of a neo-Protestant Christian denomination almost not studied so far despite its group culture strongly oriented, since its creation, to a pro technology discourse and a massive use of media specific to each historical period of time2;

b) the increase of the characteristics that describe attitudes towards the culture of innovation of Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) pastors;

c) the presentation of the religious activities carried out by SDA pastors with digital technology;

d) the availability of the survey results that may be correlated with other existing or future research on the social uses of digital technology by the clergy of different denominations.

With regard to the limits of our research, we note here two:

a) the limitation of the study of the uses of Internet and digital media to SDA pastors, a sample of the Inter-European Division3, and to only one country even if it hosts the majority of Inter-European Division SDA members and even if the Inter-European Division pastors are professio-nally inserted by their missions at the high management levels of the Division and General Conference.

b) the limitation given by the choice of the sample, reduced to 32 participants. This limit is however compensated by the characteristics of the sample presented above and the geographical mobility and missio-naries that characterize the activity of SDA pastors who are often transferred and to whom are entrusted various missions throughout the course of their pastoral activity. To this is added the object of our study that was not to highlight how many pastors use digital media and Internet, but to present the uses that SDA pastors make of digital technology.

The theoretical framework of our analysis is situated at the heart of the debate on uses and rather favours the approaches which value the "socio-communicational and symbolic aspect"4 of uses which have the merit of restoring a conception of active user, actor in the process of innovation5, user who not only suffers the potential availability of information by digital technology, but who also remodels digital technology by adapting it to his lifestyle and values (Campbell, 2010) in what Bratosin and Tudor called at the opening of the 4th workshop Essachess-Iarsic, "an enriched logic of the availability and appropriation of contents"6.

Studies of usages: beyond the instructions for use

The historical overview of the studies of media use and digital technologies gives the image of a confrontation of paradigms and approaches at the intersection of several fields such as sociology, informa-tion and communication sciences, economics, management, etc. in which the challenge consists of the role played by the user7. The user is alter-nately actor-user according to the sociological approach, receiver accor-ding to the communicational approach, or consumer according to the economic approach. …

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