A paper on the use of social media for Buddhist rituals for Bhutanese families, co-authored by Associate Professor Todd Sandel in the Department of Communication, Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Macau (UM), and his PhD student Dorji Wangchuk, will be published in the November issue of Language & Communication, one of the top journals in the fields of communication and linguistics, the public university said in a statement on Monday.
The paper is one of the few studies in the world on communication and social media in Bhutan.
Titled “Thank You for Your Blessing: Constructed Mobile Chronotopes in a Buddhist Online Community in Bhutan”, the paper examines how members of an extended family in Bhutan use the social media application WeChat to negotiate problems of time, space, co-presence and participation, the statement points out.
The study uses the concept of the “mobile chronotope” to analyse how members use the modalities of WeChat’s functions of voice and image, to communicate their participation in a Buddhist ceremony, according to the statement.
The term “chronotope” refers to the representation, in language, of a particular time and space.
“Through their mobile phones, family members are able to create the sense that they are linked in a sacred time and space, that they are members of an extended family, and that they observe the proper respect to be given to the lama of the temple and other elder members,” the statement notes.
In addition, according to the statement, the study demonstrates that the application provides more opportunities for female family members to participate in religious activities online.
According to official statistics, some three-quarters of Bhutan’s 760,000 inhabitants are Buddhists. The kingdom was never subjected to colonial occupation.
Language & Communication, published by Elsevier, features interdisciplinary studies of language and communication. Contributions come from scholars across a wide range of fields, including applied linguistics, cultural studies, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics, psychology, and semiotics, according to the statement.