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date: 17 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Religion began appearing online in the 1990s, and it naturally segued into virtual worlds enabled by the Internet in the twenty-first century. Virtual communities now proliferate in virtual worlds and video games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. Naturally, as increasing numbers of participants have joined such worlds, they have brought religious ideas and practices with them. In order to study religious communities in virtual worlds, we must account for the many constituents—both human and nonhuman—of those communities. Although sociologists occasionally presume that their field of study can be limited to human subjects, it is necessary to see how individual people are frequently tied together thanks to the objects employed by and circulated within their groups. Using actor-network theory, it is possible to see how virtual objects work, in conjunction with physical objects and human beings, to stabilize religious and quasi-religious groups in virtual worlds.

Keywords: actor-network theory, religion, religious communities, Second Life, sociology, video game, virtual world, World of Warcraft

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