• Religious Authority Online in the Diocese of York

      Course, Eleanor (University of Chester, 2016-01)
      My aim in this dissertation is to research who the online authorities are in the Diocese of York, whether they have roles of authority in the offline church, whether these online roles are considered important by people in the offline church, and whether the online spaces managed by these people are part of wider mission and ministry. In this dissertation, I investigate these topics by collecting qualitative data from some of these people via an online survey and a focus group. I argue that many of the people who are authorities online do have positions of authority in the offline church, and are part of its hierarchy and structure, but that this authority does not necessarily extend online. I argue that there is often a real disconnection between a church’s offline mission and ministry, and the role of the church’s online spaces. This is partly due to conflicting understandings of the purpose or role of online spaces, and partly due to the fact that they are simply not seen as important. Finally, I argue that validation of authority is crucial to both our understanding of the attributes of religious authority online, and to the effectiveness of the mission and ministry online, both from people in the offline church and for the online religious authority themselves.