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The Internet has Revived Religious Identity and Adherence (Essay Sample)


The client wanted me to help her complete a 17 page paper on how technology, especially the internet has influenced religious identities and fundamentalism . The paper explores how the internet has not only helped such groups to find unity in their identity but also medium for mobilizing followers and SYMPATHIZERS.


The Internet has Revived Religious Identity and Adherence
The Internet has Revived Religious Identity and Adherence
The internet is a medium of imaginable possibilities, where one can go beyond social self (Hjarvard 2002). It is also known for its abilities of blurring space boundaries in which the connected individuals inhabit (Freeman 1999). Cyberspace has made monumental achievement of creating communities that are either nationally bound or necessarily physical, but transcend all the sacred boundaries of nation and home (Morley 1999). However, this does not mean that the internet is dislocated from the realities of life, but rather the cyberspace is regarded as another space, and never a substitute space. As a result, the contemporary global and local power relations are extended trough this space, and never displaced from the physical one. One of the undisputed impacts of invention and use of the internet is globalization.
As globalization gets underway in transforming the manner in which countries trade, many debates regarding its impact on individual countries have resulted to conflicting views, especially on its impact on the relationship between the local and global. Other scholars have perceived globalization as the enhancement of relationships between various cultures within a time-space (Robertson 1997). Likewise also, globalization has been seen as the expansion of cultures, entering the global realm (Featherstone 1995). Despite the difference in perceptions on globalization, both views postulate the idea that both the local and global are constantly interacting. Khatib (2003) theorizes that the outcome of this type of interaction has always been perceived as either heterogenization because of the sense that both culture are distinct and they may clash, or homogenization of cultures, which result to cultural unification or integration (Huntington 1996).
Besides these types of interaction, studies have shown that the modern world is witnessing an eruption of new kinds of afflation which surpass the nation, but yet do not mean the affiliations are a threat to the nation (Khatib 2003). Khatib (2003) asserts that these new affiliations can be perceived as new forms of patriotism or nationalism. However, the “new patriotism or nationalism” describes the formation of intersecting, regional, local, global, and religious affiliations. Some of the outcomes of such affiliations are formation of new identities, especially religious identifies as a result of fundamentalism (Khatib 2003). This paper seeks to discuss how the internet has revived religious identity and adherence. This paper uses Islam as a point of reference to indicate how various Islamic fundamentalists have identified themselves with various radical groups, but still adhere to Jihadist activities. Globalization, an aftermath of the invention of the internet, will be highlighted as a key factor that has resulted to emergence of different Islamic fundamentalist groups with various identities. The paper will make reference to two of the most radical Islamic radical groups which include Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The paper will be divided into two major sections including the theoretical framework, construction of identity and meaning, the cyberspace as tool for Islamic fundamentalists, and the conclusionbesides the introduction.
The theoretical framework
According to castell’s Network Theory of Power, power relationships are considered the pillars of society because institutions and norms are developed to fulfill various values and interests of those that are in power; but however, whenever there is power in the society, there is counter power that works to enact the values and interests of those subordinated or marginalized (Castells 2008). Organizations that construct human actions often depend on peculiar interaction between power and counter power. Castells (2008) asserts that every society has a distinct form of expressing power and counter-power. For instance, the network society exercises social power through and by networks (Castells 2009). There are majorly four forms of power which include network power, network-making power, networking power, and networked power, and each of these powersdefine the distinct processes of exercising powers.
According to Castell (2008) networking is defined as the power of actors and organizations comprised in the networks, which make up the core of the universal network society or the marginalized that are collectively or individually excluded from these established global networks. This kind of power is exercised through inclusion or exclusion. Studies have indicated that the cost of exclusion from these global networks increase at a higher rate in comparison with the potential benefits of inclusion (Tongia & Wilson, 2007). Although the benefits of inclusion into the network increases exponentially with respect to the size of the network, the devaluation associated with exclusion also increases exponentially; but at a faster rate as opposed to that of being in the network or group (Castells 2008). Castells (2008) points out that the Network gatekeeping theory has looked into different processes through which nodes are excluded or included in a network and indicated the main role played by the network’s gatekeeping capacity, with respect to the enforcement of collective power of certain networks over others (Barzilai-Nahon, 2008). Through the Network gatekeeping theory investigation, social actors have a means of establishing a power position by deploying a network that accumulatively generates valuable resources and decides to exercise gatekeeping strategies to limit or bar access to those who are considered not adding value to the network or jeopardizing values and interests predominantly shared by all network members.
On the other hand, network power is better understood by conceptualizing and theorizing globalization from the network analysis point of view (Grewal 2008). From this angle, globalization is perceived as the social coordination between identifiable multiple networked actors. However, Castells (2008) points out that this form of coordination works under standards that allows global coordination display, or what is regarded as network power. The idea of the network power includes joining two distinct ideas: coordinating standards are considered more valuable when used by greater number of people, and what is considered dynamic or a form of power is likely to result to the inherent elimination of available alternatives over existing potentialities of collectively exercising free choice. Grewal (2008) theorizes that the emerging global standards oftentimes provide a solution to global coordination between various participants, but accomplished through elevating one solution over others, and threatens to eliminate alternative solutions to the principle problem.
As a result, the standards or protocols of communication among participants determine acceptable rules in the network. Once particular protocols of communication are incorporated in the network, power is exercised by imposing the rules of exclusion as opposed to exclusion from the network (Castells 2008). However, these rules might be subject to negotiation, depending on the openness and interactivity of the network; but once rules governing a certain social network are set, they are inaugurated as compelling decrees for all nodes within a specific network, as a sign of respect for these rules hence making the network’s existence as a communicative body possible. Therefore, network power is seen as the power standards associated with the network individual components, despite favoring the values and interests of both the establishment of the protocols of communication and a distinct set of social actors from the formation of a network (Castells 2008). The processes of making power should be understood from two different points of view: On one hand, the power making processes can enforce the existing domination or capture structural positions of the domination, while on the other hand, there are countervailing power processes which antagonize established domination with the aim of promoting their values, interests, and projects that might otherwise be under-represented or excluded in the compositions and programs of the networks (Castells 2008). Although different, both the power and counter-power processes operate a single unique logic, and they use their interaction to configure their power structures.
Another theorist that discuses on human social identity as shaped by interaction with power is Michel Foucault. Foucault’s theory rejects essentialist feeing models that promote the inner essence and waits for liberation from its alienation or repression (Foucault 1979). Foucault (1979) contrasts liberty with liberation, and defines liberty as a continuous ethical practice of care of self and self-mastery. He perceives liberty to be ethic’s ontological condition, and describes ethics as the willful form that is assumed by liberty. He also perceives individuals as capable of having power to define and decide their own identity, master their bodies and desires, and able to forge freedom through self techniques, instead of waiting for a third part to offer liberation. Foucault (1979) suggests dialectic between a creative and an active agent and shielding social field where liberation is achieved to a degree; people can overcome any socially imposed limitations and obtain stylized existence and self-mastery. Foucault theorizes that a subject’s expression of oneself in an active fashion through individual practices, the practices will not be something that is self-invented, but rather patterns that the subject finds in his culture, and they are proposed and imposed on him by ...
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