Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

August E Grant

Abstract

Over the past few decades there has been a trend of emerging adults (18-25 year olds) leaving the institution of religion and embracing a more personal religion, claiming to be `spiritual, but not religious.' For emerging adults, this is the first time in their lives that they have been in control of major life decisions leading them to make choices that are uniquely theirs rather than choices those in authority have made for them. One of those major decisions is that of religion. It is believed that decisions about religious beliefs are formed during emerging adulthood as a result of socialization with peers. The difference for this cohort of emerging adults, compared to those who have preceded it, is that they are more connected to their social network of peers through the use of social media such as Facebook. This dissertation research explored the relationships between Facebook use and religiosity among emerging adults.

A pen and paper survey measuring institutional religiosity, personal religiosity, Facebook dependency, Facebook use, identity exploration, self-exploration and religious social embeddedness was administered to students at a major university and a community college in the Southeast (N=538). Both institutional and personal religiosities were found to be correlated with Facebook dependency including each dimension of individual media dependency. Identity formation was also related to Facebook dependency. Facebook was found to be an intermediary variable between emerging adults and their religiosity. Thus, Facebook may be thought of as a proxy for the emerging adult's network or community of peers, with the potential to play a significant role in the formation of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

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