The spread of technology offers incredible potential for dialogue and exchange of ideas with people of different backgrounds, ideologies, and faiths. Since joining Newman in 2014, Stephen Pihlaja has addressed just a few of these online interactions in his painstakingly detailed monograph Antagonism on YouTube. By focusing on discourse from a variety of perspectives, Stephen addresses themes such as impoliteness, key metaphors and narrative construction.
Stephen's research tries to make sense of the sheer complexity of online relationships by looking at the interactions among users of different faiths and no faith on social media. By assessing the thousands of online comments left by users to sites such as YouTube, Stephen seeks to understand how users on social media navigate difficult interaction around religion, building communities, evangelising, and arguing with users of different backgrounds.
Stephen is also interested in religious dialogue at Newman University, and particularly how Muslim students interact with the catholic ethos of the University. Stephen's book on YouTube's inter-religious dialogue is available on Bloomsbury Press. His next book, Religious Talk on Social Media will appear in 2017 with Cambridge University Press.