Experts assess digital impact on Muslim lives
How digital technology is shaping European Muslims’ views on a range of faith-related issues will be the focus of an Edinburgh-led research project.
Experts will seek to build a clearer picture of the way online platforms are affecting traditional structures within Islam across the continent.
The study team, led by specialists at the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, has been awarded almost €1.4million by the Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe.
Researchers say that while digital platforms have strengthened ties among Europe’s Muslim communities, this has widened inter-generational differences within these groups.
Digital natives are, for instance, more likely than older generations to value YouTube as a source of Islamic knowledge over the local mosque or other traditional sites of religious learning.
The research team wants to deepen understanding of the creation, use and influence of so-called Online Islamic Environments (OIEs) in European contexts.
The project will investigate the characteristics of contemporary OIEs, and their effect on the social and religious practices of different Muslim populations in Europe.
Researchers will examine how Muslim populations in five countries – Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK – use digital platforms to share advice on issues related to Islam.
They will explore how OIEs shape individual behaviours and beliefs in different national settings and how they interact with Muslim networks, policy makers and third sector organisations.
Lead researcher Professor Frederic Volpi says: “While many Muslims remain marginalised from European hierarchies of knowledge, digital platforms provide novel ways to create and share information about themselves and their roles in multicultural European society.”
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