Via Facebook to Jerusalem

Social Media as a Toolbox for the Study of Religion


  • Hanne Eggen Roislien Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)



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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Author Biography

  • Hanne Eggen Roislien, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

    Hanne Eggen Røislien is a PhD-fellow in Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, and a Researcher at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). General themes in her work are the role of religion in conflict and the functions of religion and culture in the legitimation of war. Empirically, her work is focused on the Middle East, with a particular focus on Israeli settlements and the Israel Defense Forces.


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How to Cite

Roislien, H. (2012). Via Facebook to Jerusalem: Social Media as a Toolbox for the Study of Religion. Fieldwork in Religion, 6(1), 8-26.