Community Chapter uri icon


  • The extent to which a group of people who meet and interact online can be considered a community has been a subject of great debate over the past three decades. The Internet’s ability to facilitate and mediate social relations has shifted many people’s notions of friendship, relationship, and community in an age of networked, digital technologies. This chapter deals with the question of how community is defined in relation to the online context and how the Internet alters many people’s practice of community within a new media landscape. This requires several key questions to be addressed, including: How is community defined, enacted, and networked online? What challenges do new media pose to traditional religious communities? What is the connection between online and offline community? In order to answer these questions, this chapter begins with an overview of the rise of groups online and how they began to be viewed as communities. Early online communities opened up new possibilities for social interaction, challenging traditional notions of community. Next, the study of online religious community is reviewed, outlining the different waves of research conducted into the concept of community online. This overview demonstrates how new forms of community have been described, analyzed, and interpreted to consider the offline impact of these online groups. Finally, exploring these examples and researching community online points to a distinctive understanding of how community is lived and viewed in contemporary society. The shift in the conception of community is, notably, linked to a networked understanding of community rather than notions of shared geography and familial ties. This illustrates that new forms of community, facilitated by networked interaction, indeed point to a revised understanding and practice of community in an age of new media.

altmetric score

  • 19.532

author list (cited authors)

  • Campbell, H. A.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Campbell, HA

editor list (cited editors)

  • Campbell, H. A.

Book Title

  • Digital Religion: Understanding Religious Practice in New Media Worlds

publication date

  • January 2012