The recent penetration of ubiquitous digital technologies into bounded communities is dramatically reshaping the power structures within these communities and evoking formidable resistance from established traditional authorities. In light of the recent dramatic penetration of digital technologies amongst bounded communities, the proposed study seeks to examine the impact of free flowing and non-formal sources of knowledge on these societies. The study aims to uncover the potential impact of new media on bounded societies with a focus on fundamentalist communities. More specifically, I investigate the ways knowledge repositories shape informal religious learning in the public sphere, and to explore how religious digital knowledge repositories (DKRs) provide opportunities for strengthening and defining religious identity and community, for sharpening the boundaries between religious sub-communities, and for creating channels of communication and exchange of information.
Accordingly, the proposed research aims to explore the case of the ultra Orthodox variant in Israel. The study is concerned with the potential of digital knowledge repositories (DKR) (e.g. religious blogs, forums, websites, responsa websites, memes, smart phone/tablet applications, video sharing sites, podcasts, webinars) to strengthen communal identity, sharpen boundaries, and foster unity, while at the same to potentially undermine the well-established authority. This will be explored through a triangulated analysis of key informants, in depth interviews with digital content creators and a semiotic and discourse analysis of ultra Orthodox DKRs, the study aims to uncover the content and impact of these sources of knowledge. Inferences of this study relate to the sources of communication, informal education and social change that accompany closed societies (e.g. immigrants, ideological or religious groups) that are prevalent in the EU and beyond in a digitally inclined network society.
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