Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
COVID-19, Digital Religion, Faith, New Media, Technology, Uses and Gratifications theory
Communication | Religion
The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s religious behavior around the world. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, most in-person religious services have shifted to virtual platforms. The online religious transition amidst the outbreak has alleviated many issues for worshippers as it provided them with a sanctuary space to connect with their faith and community. According to a 2020 Pew Research analysis, the pandemic has made many Americans change their religious habits by watching religious content online instead of physically engaging with their local religious institution. This dissertation provides a preliminary examination of this phenomenon by exploring the role of digital media in connecting people with their religion during the COVID-19 pandemic. A mixed-method analysis was implied in this study, starting with in-depth interviews among a small group of Muslims (N=20) between 2021 and 2022. The interview data revealed many aspects of Muslims’ religious digital media uses and gratifications during the outbreak. Several key themes have emerged from the qualitative data reflecting on the individual relationship with their faith in the digital world while also analyzing the long-term impacts and the aftermath of the pandemic in the digitalization of religion. Qualitative findings were then tested in a larger and more diverse sample through an online survey on Amazon MTurk (N=489). The survey results further illustrate other characteristics that can shape digital religion practices. These factors were related to the individual level of religiosity, attitudes toward technology, sense of belonging, and digital media religious consumption.
Altawil, Abdulaziz, "Digitalizing Religion in the Age of COVID-19: A Uses and Gratifications Perspective" (2022). Dissertations - ALL. 1605.