Research Papers

The following research papers are pending submission to scholarly journals.

Narratives Draw on Collective Memory to Construct Intangible Heritage:
Group Identity Formation and Implications for Communication

Intangible heritage is an emerging area of study that would be strengthened by a communication perspective. Narrative serves as a foundational structure and method of creating both individual and group identity and has strong foundations in the field of communication. Theoretical linkages between the two constructs strengthen scholarship on group identity in the field of communication. However, the connection between intangible heritage and narrative is not direct. Instead, narratives draw on collective memory to create intangible heritage. This process is demonstrated both theoretically and practically. An oral history study with 18 self-identified American Jews shows that Jewish community members use oral narratives (storytelling) that draw on memories of traditional holiday celebrations to create Jewish heritage. Future research with additional populations could confirm this process.

Religion Online: The Utility of Religious Websites

Scholars differentiate between a religion creating an online space to share information about itself and a religion (or individuals seeking out that religion) using an online forum as a method for religious practice. The former is called religion online, and the latter is called online religion. This paper aims to evaluate websites that implement religion online by explaining the characteristics of effective websites as determined by scholarly research, particularly Kent and Taylor’s (1998) dialogic approach. The approach is used to evaluate, a notable website among the Jewish community that implements religion online. Results show that clearly implements four of the five principles of the dialogic approach, and more research is needed to determine if it implements the fifth. Though the dialogic approach was created when websites were still relatively in their infancy, the approach is still useful for evaluating modern websites.

Toward Secularization: An Investigation of the Evolving Modern Jewish Identity

A recent study by the Pew Research Center on the state of the American Jewish community highlighted a trend of Jewish Americans becoming less observant over the last decade. This process, known as secularization, is traditionally defined by a linear relationship stating that when a society modernizes it also must secularize, though some scholars argue instead each society’s reasons for secularizing must be examined in their own context. In the American Jewish community, secularization has been caused by immigration and assimilation, intermarriage, and the splintering of the religion into distinct denominations. Religious observance stopped being the defining criteria for being Jewish. An oral history study was conducted to determine what Jewish-identified Americans deem as defining criteria to being group members, or prototypes according to the social identity perspective. Study participants identified that receiving Jewish education, marrying within the faith, having children with strong Jewish identities, having a deeply ingrained Jewish identity, having flexibility in their definition of who is Jewish, and pride in being Jewish as prototypical behaviors of being Jewish and crucial aspects of Jewish identity.

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