Online Religious Learning: Digital Epistemic Authority and Self-Socialization in Religious Communities

Akiva Berger, Oren Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past two decades, the internet has become a central platform affording lay-learners access to a multiplicity of experts. While these outlets empower lay-learners, they create competition amongst clerical and knowledge authorities. This article addresses the question: how is religious authority understood and negotiated by learners, and in turn, how do they evaluate authoritative sources. Twenty-six in-depth think-aloud interviews were conducted with Religious-Zionists in Israel on their internet sourcing practices. Findings uncovered four strategies employed when sourcing information online: (1) Generating a reliable source network based on the learners? social and primordial affiliations. (2) Complexity based sourcing practices stemming from learners? uncertainty in their ability to autonomously attain a satisfying answer. (3) Fitting an appropriate source to queries based on their availability and prestige. (4) Negotiating learner's autonomy in a particular field of knowledge based on the social or epistemic norms that govern it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalLearning, Media and Technology
StateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Epistemic authority
  • Epistemic autonomy
  • digital religion
  • online learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Media Technology


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