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Uncanny and Doubly Liminal: Social Media, Cross-Cultural Reentry, and LDS/Mormon Missionary Religious Identity

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This study offers a theoretical perspective on the role of social media in the transition home for returning missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon). Despite a long tradition of strict LDS institutional norms aimed at sheltering full-time church missionaries from outside media influences, missionaries are today increasingly encouraged to use social media sites in their proselytizing efforts. Through qualitative, in-depth interviews with recently returned LDS missionaries, this study explores the role Facebook plays in facilitating the maintenance of mission relationships after missionaries have returned home, something interviewees said helps them retain the sense of religious commitment and identity developed through missionary service. Interview findings also complicate the potential benefits of social media use, providing evidence for the argument that returning LDS missionaries are often caught between media technology, personal media preferences, institutional authority, and popular culture. These individuals seem to occupy a doubly liminal position between full-time proselytizing and life at home, between a historical religious tradition of missionary media isolation and an emerging institutional embrace of social media—all of which results in what might best be described as an uncanny experience.

Affiliations: 1: Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UNITED STATES,


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