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Young Believers Online - mapping on- and offline identifications of urban religious youth

Urban youth
Thursday, January 19, 2023, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Although growing awareness of their own diversity in terms of religion, ethnicity and language has become a characteristic feature of many European societies, political responses to this superdiversity are often one-dimensional attempts to pin down a collective identity. In stark contrast, we see that young people growing up in diverse urban areas make identifications in multiple, flexible ways, both in their physical surroundings and in digital spaces.

“Young Believers Online” is an interdisciplinary, explorative research project interested in the conceptualization and visualization of on- and offline identifications of urban religious youth. We asked how young religious people in superdiverse urban settings negotiate their multiple belonging on- and offline, and used innovative methods and digital tools to answer this question. Building on the increased interest in belonging - both in terms of “religious belonging” and “politics of belonging” - we explored processes of identification. YouBeOn re-conceptualized the multiplicity and multi-layeredness of the often used, but under-theorized concept belonging. Based on the analysis of 41 qualitative inerviews with young believers from Vienna, we developed a refined approach to religious belonging as as “digitalized”, “translocalized” and “adapted”. Together with experts in Digital Humanities, we created the YouBeOn Map, an application that visualizes links between physical locations, online activities and individual constructions of belonging.

Astrid Mattes is a tenure track professor for Social Scientific Research on Religion at the University of Vienna (Research Centre Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society). She studied political science and religious studies in Vienna and Limerick and wrote her PhD thesis on the roles of religion in integration politics. Between 2010 and 2018 involved in various research programmes on the mapping of religions and the politics of inclusion and exclusion at the University of Vienna. As a postdoctoral researcher, she worked at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in different European projects and led a project on youth religiosity. Research visits brought her to the University of Toronto (Department of Sociology), University of Lucerne (Department for the Study of Religion) and EURAC Research Bolzano (Institute for Minority Rights). In her research, Astrid focuses on youth religiosity, digital religion, political aspects of Christianity and Islam in Europe and the intersection of migration and religion.