Abstract - The Information Society 21(1)

Cultured Technology: Internet and Religious Fundamentalism

Karine Barzilai-Nahon and Gad Barzilai

In this article we identify four principal dimensions of religious fundamentalism as they interact with the Internet: hierarchy, patriarchy, discipline and seclusion. We also develop the concept of cultured technology, and analyze the ways communities reshape a technology and make it a part of their culture, while at the same time changing their customary way of life and unwritten laws to adapt to it. Later, we exemplify our theoretical framework through an empirical examination of ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel. Our empirical study is based on a dataset of 686,192 users and 60,346 virtual communities. The results show the complexity of interactions between religious fundamentalism and Internet, and invite further discussions of cultured technology as a means to understand how the Internet has been culturally constructed, modified and adapted to the needs of fundamentalist communities and how they in turn have been affected by it.

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