Sub-project Engel

Research Project „Christian Influencers in the U.S. – Influencers That Young U.S. Christians follow“ (Katharina Engel)

The use of social media enables adolescents to communicate with their peers as well as other functions that are important for socialization. In particular, the orientation towards idols and models, which is decisive for development, is increasingly taking place in the digital framework. So-called influencers, in particular, are predestined for becoming a digital role model as they are personalities who mainly share their everyday life on the YouTube and Instagram platforms.

The question of whether, to what extent and in which subject areas Christian influencers have an impact on young people in their personal perception and in their religious lifestyle is therefore also relevant from a religious-educational perspective.

The United States as the country of origin of the platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. is a strikingly formative country for social media culture. In addition, the factor of religiosity in the American population differs significantly from the German culture in terms of its characteristics, design and meaning.

The aim of the project is therefore to find out more about how influencers affect Christian-oriented young people in the United States and how they influence their value orientation and religious lifestyle.

The international research project consequently consists of three parts

1) Exploring and describing the Christian influencer scene in the United States.

2) Conception of a survey with online questionnaires among Christian youth in the USA about the influencers (Instagram, YouTube) they prefer.

3) Conducting qualitative interviews with selected young Christians in the USA to integrate influencers into their personal life and beliefs.

The research will be carried out during a one-year residency at Ohio University (from August 2021).

A long-term aim of the study is to compare the results with those of German Christian-oriented young people and to evaluate them in a comparative way.