Via Facebook to Jerusalem
Social Media as a Toolbox for the Study of Religion
Keywords:Access, Facebook, fieldwork, Gate-Keeper, religion, research methodology, social
Social media contain a significant potential as a research tool in the scholarly study of contemporary religion. This article, therefore, does not feed into the thematic field of “online ethnography” further, but is instead an attempt to utilize the online sphere as constructive research tools to gather more thorough ethnographic data in the field. Approaching Facebook as a toolbox rather than an object, this article is an attempt to demystify social media in general and Facebook in particular. Utilizing these media forms as efficient tools throughout the research process, the article looks at primarily two phases of the process, pre fieldwork and post-fieldwork, and explores the various components of Facebook in combination with these two phases. It is argued that Facebook represents a “Hub Keeper,” which is a generic term referring to three primary methodological functions: it is a Gate-Keeper that enables identification and recruitment of interviewees; it is a hub containing a variety of data; and, it is a Gateway for validation of data.
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