Legitimation of New Media for Religious Youth: Orthodox Elites’ Approach to Adolescent Youngsters’ Engagement with Digital Worlds

Oren Golan, Yaakov Don

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The promulgation of new media has generated substantial dilemmas for religious communities in terms of its use, implementation, and impact on youth’s socialization. Previous research has echoed religious authorities’ concern regarding the widespread integration of new media yet has done little to delineate their narratives of legitimation. Ergo, the question is begged, how do religious communities legitimate the use of new media? Utilizing a case study approach, this study focuses on the social construction of new media’s legitimacy within the Jewish Religious-Zionist community in Israel, through an analysis of the community’s educational elite. To this end, 26 in-depth interviews with the community’s prominent educational leaders were conducted. Findings indicate 4 primary narratives that are employed to legitimate new media use: (1) acclaiming modernity; (2) sanctifying the new media; (3) promoting solidarity; and (4) religious study and the public’s ability to choose. Understanding these narratives of legitimation towards new media sheds light on the ways that modern ideas are incrementally being integrated into religious communities, and the ways the elite negotiate its integration through what can be seen as their most weighty tool, that of youth socialization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number484
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was funded by the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1716/12) and is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Israel
  • new media domestication
  • religious authority
  • religious education
  • Zionist-Religious

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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