Sunday, May 06, 2007

Researching Theo(b)logy

Modifying a phrase from Tony Jones, I gave a paper entitled "Researching Theo(b)logy" at a Conference in Oxford last month about my research with emerging Christian communities, reflecting on methodological issues for research in the blogosphere.

I'm exploring the on- and offline theorisings of individuals and communities involved in a critical conversation between Christianity and culture. Radical Orthodoxy maintains that all Christian theorisings should be 'theological' (Milbank 2006) and 'confessional' (Smith 2004); i.e. they should be grounded in the Christian narrative of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. Therefore, following the insights of RO, but alluding to the medium in which many of contemporary Christians' theorisings are being explored, I refer to this subject matter as “theo(b)logy.”

I reflect on the methodological difficulties of conducting research in the blogosphere, including: locating blogs, measuring blog validity, and measuring blog influence. However, I also argue for a participatory research methodology for the blogosphere which uses the opportunities provided by the Internet to increase the levels of participation open to research participants themselves.

This is the paper in which I suggest that a research-specific blog (a la Bryan Murley) is beneficial for research projects on the blogosphere. The responses to this suggestion gave me the confidence to start this research blog of my own.

It was a great conference, with fascinating papers from Lynn Schofield-Clark on Fashion Bibles like Revolve, Tom Beaudoin on fandom, and Nick Couldry on media rituals. I want to be a lecturer in Christianity and culture.

No comments: