M. Topchiev, V. Dryagalov, D. Chernichkin
Friday 9 November 2018 by Libadmin2018


Over recent years, Russian researchers have become more and more interested in studying ethnic and confessional issues of Russian regions and their population. Special attention is paid to three world religions – Christianity, Islam and Buddhism – that are wide-spread in the Russian sociocultural space. In the days of IT mainstreaming, these religions do not only open up new territories but also proselytize on the Internet. However, as the real and virtual spaces change with different speed and pace, almost every religion has to adapt itself to the patterns and rates of development that are set by the Internet. Nevertheless, opening up a new virtual space leaves its mark on the religions. The issue urgency is explained by the fact that a growing need of the modern society in digital entertainment and social media communication allows to consider the Internet as a “new social institution”. The main study method is a content analysis of Russian religious websites, groups and forums in social media, as well as Android and iOS apps. The content analysis allowed to identify that network projects of the world religions – Christianity (Orthodoxy), Islam and Buddhism, the most wide-spread religions in Russia – include virtual churches and websites of real religious organizations, as well as numerous religious groups and forums that function in different social media. It was found out that currently there is a steady tendency related to a growing number of religious mobile apps for Android and iOS devices that are developed for Russian users. The second stage included a sociological research that allowed to analyze the respondents’ experience of participation in network religion-related projects, to study value orientations of people that use these resources and to identify the most popular religious mobile apps among the respondents. Particular attention was also paid to differentiation of the respondents’ general attitude to such forms of religious network communication.
The study allowed to identify a tendency of desacralization of the religious online space due to marketing technology application, which manifests itself in a growing number of virtual representations of religious organizations that render different commercial services, and a large number of mobile apps that are developed either with the help of investors practising a certain religion or by means of users’ donations.

Keywords: internet, religion, religious networks, virtual church, transnational networks

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