In March 2017 I gave a paper at the AHRC Surveillance and Religion Workshop in Edinburgh. I decided to turn it into a paper and submit to a special edition of Surveillance and Society, a top quartile journal for Urban Studies (of particular interest as an Associate Member of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Met Uni). With a generous extension on the submission date, I managed to submit the paper the day before I started chemotherapy (1 Dec 2017), with a little help from a few friends (see below), and it was accepted (with revisions, of course). I completed the revisions between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and have had a few copyedits to do in recent weeks, but the special issue on Surveillance and Religion is now out.
Abstract: Social media has become a part of everyday life, including the faith lives of many. It is a space that assumes an observing gaze. Engaging with Foucauldian notions of surveillance, self-regulation, and normalisation, this paper considers what it is about social and digital culture that shapes expectations of what users can or want to do in online spaces. Drawing upon a wide range of surveillance research, it reflects upon what “surveillance” looks like within social media, especially when users understand themselves to be observed in the space. Recognising moral panics around technological development, the paper considers the development of social norms and questions how self-regulation by users presents itself within a global population. Focusing upon the spiritual formation of Christian users (disciples) in an online environment as a case study of a community of practice, the paper draws particularly upon the author’s experiences online since 1997 and material from The Big Bible Project (CODEC 2010–2015). The research demonstrates how the lived experience of the individual establishes the interconnectedness of the online and offline environments. The surveillant affordances and context collapse are liberating for some users but restricting for others in both their faith formation and the subsequent imperative to mission.
Published Dec 15, 2018
Other articles on my blog about ‘Surveillance‘