How does Religion Matter?

Guiding Question: How does religion or spirituality matter in the design, engineering, and use of media and technologies?

The influence of religion or spirituality in ethical practice has often been marginalized or even disregarded. The idea that we are in a secular age or that religion is an antiquated notion seems itself anachronistic in a globalized, post-9/11 world (Taylor, 2007). Instead, there is a resurgent discussion about religion in relation to politics (Berger, 1999), globalization (Sullivan & Kymlicka, 2007), education (Arthur, Gearon, & Sears, 2010; Block, 2007), ecology (McGrath, 2011), architecture (Radding & Clark, 1992), and media and technology (Hoover, 2006; Hoover & Clark, 2010). Additionally, there continues to be sizeable population groups in Canada and the United States that actively participate in one of the major world religions (Bibby, 2013; PFoRPL, 2008).

While religious matters remains a contentious issue (Smith, 2009), yet one cannot deny that it has traditionally affected family systems (Booth, Johnson, Branman, & Sica, 1995), health and well-being (Lim & Putnam, 2010), and cultural practices and rituals (Dawson, 2013; Foucault & Carrette, 1999; Hecht & Biondo, 2012). The underlying concern is one of ethics (Bonhoeffer, 1995; Borgmann, 2006; Hauerwas & Pinches, 1997; Hauerwas & Wells, 2011; Schweiker, 2005; Wolterstorff, 2010), and particularly whether religion or spirituality matter in consumer, design, and technology ethics and responsibility (Agle & Buren, 1999; De Bock & Van Kenhove, 2010). Does religion or spirituality matter in the design, engineering, and use of media and technology (Brock, 2010; Franklin, 1999; Manders-Huits, 2011; Monsma, 1986; Schuurman, 2009; Walker, 2006)? Is there empirical evidence? In additional to a review of literature, I am aiming to distinguish how religion and spirituality contribute to ethical know-how (Owen, Bessant, & Heintz, 2013; Petrina, Feng & Wang, under review; Varela, 1999; Varela, 2000; Varela & Shear, 1999a, 1999b) in the design, engineering, and use of media and technology.


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Wolterstorff, N. (2010). Justice: Rights and wrongs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


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