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Abstract

Pilgrimage has evolved alongside the evolution of communication technology. Emergent communication technology is changing how people present themselves and tell others about their experiences, including within the context of pilgrimages. Building upon this recognition, this paper examines how evolving communication technologies have changed pilgrimage using Victor Turner’s concepts of rite of passage and communitas. This conceptual paper recognises that technologies, such as the internet, mobile phones and social media, all influence the three stages of the pilgrimage ritual process: separation, liminality, and reintegration. This paper provides a conceptual clarification of the differences between how the medieval and the 21st Century pilgrims experience and represent rite of passage and define the spirit of community, and position themselves in relation to both. The paper shows that the power of the physical journey clearly remains the same in modern pilgrimages as it was in the medieval era, but the mental journey is meaningfully altered.

Using Goffman’s theory of ‘self-presentation’, this paper highlights changes in how pilgrims present themselves and their pilgrimage experiences on social media. In this context, self-presentation is described as the way the pilgrim manages the impressions they make on other people, particularly at the liminal stage. While medieval pilgrims kept diaries, modern pilgrims document their pilgrimage experiences via constant status updates on social media. Social media is an important medium for modern pilgrims to present a certain version of self-identity to other users of sites. This paper emphasises the need for a deeper assessment of the conceptualisation of pilgrimage in the contemporary era as technology creates and facilitates new layers of the pilgrimage experience.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.21427/MG4M-E412

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