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The Electronic Frontier of Catholicism in Poland: An Answer to the Crisis of Religious Community?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides a brief overview of the traditional Catholic community in Poland and its transformations in recent years. It then analyzes the ongoing research on Catholic online forums in Poland. The characteristics and functions of online communication communities are identified. The chapter argues that Internet forums should not be regarded merely as a means of communication, but as a highly expressive environment with features including: fluent/flexible authority and mutual user control, a broad understanding of religious community, reference to the teachings of the Catholic Church as a base of interaction, as well as support and advice as incentives to participate. As such, Catholic forums have community-building potential, but this community goes beyond traditional parish boundaries. Online religious communities reflect the tensions between the need to participate in church-based communities and to create new ones. In that sense they also embody the dynamic between communal and individualistic religious pursuits.

Keywords: Catholic Church; Poland; religious communities; traditional Catholic community



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