Social Media in Research on a Marginalized Identity: The Case of Atheism in Indonesia
Keywords:Atheism, Indonesia, Online Participant Observation, Social media
Social media have played a major role as a place where one can meet and socialize with like-minded people, and this is especially important for marginalized groups. Atheists depict such a group in Indonesia where public expressions of atheism are punishable. Whereas social media often plays an important role in finding like-minded people, it is also potentially dangerous to reject religion on social media. In this research workshop, I argue that insights into the ways in which atheists use and engage in social media groups are crucial if one wants to know more about atheist ways of life in Indonesia. However, atheist groups are subject to internal fragmentation, as atheism in Indonesia is highly diverse, and, as a researcher, one can find oneself caught up in these internal struggles. Finally, I argue that social media research is an important addition to offline research, since it enables the researcher, especially when dealing with sensitive issues and identities, to directly enter and critically engage with the premises in which such identities are constituted and developed.
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