Die rol en regulering van internetdiskoerse op die NG Kerk se webplatforms in die daarstelling van ʼn publieke sfeer

Van Niekerk, Francine (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates if and how the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) uses its websites to create a public sphere. Since the end of apartheid this church and its media had to adapt to the changing environment in South Africa, particularly in its increasing use of the new media to involve believers and non-believers. Because of the internet’s potential to connect people from all over the world and its interactivity, scholars assert that the internet can create a public sphere. Habermas’ idea of the public sphere, a conceptual space where critical public discourse takes place and anyone can participate, forms the theoretical underpinning for this study. This theory, however, is slightly adapted by arguing that conflict – within bounds – is also part of the communication process within the public sphere. This study focuses on seven active websites of the DRC in order to examine its relation to public theology from a critical cultural perspective. The ideals of public theology closely relates to that of the public sphere. These ideals are a public debate on issues relating to the common good, which are discussed from a religious stance. A central view is that regulation can hinder the forming of a public sphere. Thus the nature and level of regulation on the church’s websites are examined. The nature of interaction between users and content on websites is also studied. This study combines qualitative and quantitative methods, including semi structured interviews, questionnaires, content analysis and systematic observation. The study found that Kerkbode’s Facebookpage facilitates a lively forum for debate on issues that advances the public sphere. The Facebookpage of the DRC has the potential to create such debates. On both these websites and Kerkbode-online and NG Kerk-online, regulation on midlevel curbs this potential. Other obstacles for creating a public sphere that was identified on the DRC’s websites, were personal insults, too narrow focus on internal church affairs and low participation in topics that could advance the public sphere.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die vraag of die NG Kerk se webwerwe dit regkry om ʼn publieke sfeer te skep. Sedert die einde van apartheid het die kerk en sy media hom op verskeie maniere in die veranderende Suid-Afrika aangepas, onder meer deur die toenemende gebruik van nuwe media om gelowiges en nie-gelowiges te betrek. As gevolg van die internet se vermoë om mense van regoor die wêreld te verbind en die interaktiewe aard van die medium, meen kenners dat die internet ʼn publieke sfeer kan skep. Habermas se idee van ʼn publieke sfeer, wat ʼn konseptuele ruimte is waar kritiese, openbare diskoers gevoer word wat vir enigeen toeganklik is, vorm die onderbou van hierdie studie. Dié teorie word hier aangepas deur aan te voer dat konflik en meningsverskil – binne perke – ook deel van kommunikasieprosesse binne die publieke sfeer is. Hierdie studie fokus op die sewe aktiewe webwerwe van die NG Kerk om hul verbintenis tot publieke teologie binne ʼn krities-kulturele paradigma te ondersoek. Die ideale van publieke teologie hang nou saam met dié van die publieke sfeer, naamlik ʼn openbare gesprek oor sake van openbare belang wat vanuit godsdienstige oortuigings gevoer word. ʼn Sentrale vertrekpunt van die studie is dat ʼn ideale publieke sfeer deur regulering aan bande gelê kan word. Dus word die aard en vlak van regulering op die kerk se webwerwe ook nagevors. Die tipe interaksie tussen gebruikers en die inhoud van die webwerwe is ook bestudeer. Die studie gebruik ʼn kombinasie van kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe metodes, insluitend semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, vraelyste, inhoudsanalise en sistematiese observasie. Die studie het bevind dat Kerkbode se Facebookblad ʼn lewendige forum bied vir debat oor sake wat die publieke sfeer bevorder. Ook die NG Kerk se Facebookblad het die potensiaal om sulke debatte te skep. Op albei hierdie webwerwe, asook Kerkbode-aanlyn en NG Kerk-aanlyn, het regulering op mesovlak dié potensiaal egter ingeperk. Ander hindernisse vir die skep van ʼn ideale publieke sfeer wat op die NG Kerk se webwerwe geïdentifiseer is, is beledigings, ʼn te noue fokus op interne kerksake en lae deelname aan debatte oor sake wat die publieke sfeer kan bevorder.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79931
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