Mediating Religion in Las Vegas: An Ethnographic Exploration of Technology, Celebrity Culture, and Place Attachment in a Multisited Megachurch
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
In this ethnographic study, I analyzed how staff and attendees at New Life Church, a large megachurch in Las Vegas, produce and interpret worship services across multisited congregations, and how they use contemporary marketing practices, technology, and popular culture to coordinate their activities. Two research questions guided me as I undertook this study: 1) How do members and leaders negotiate possible differences between beliefs and sensuous, material practices in this unique form of evangelical Protestantism? 2) How do members and leaders interpret the religious spaces of the church? I used participant observation, interviews, and textual analysis to answer these questions. I explored how participants understood the continuum of religious spaces across four local campuses and online, focusing on the role of technology in shaping how members access and interpret worship services. I was particularly interested in the types of place attachment individuals develop in these types of mediate saturated religious environments. I found significant differences in how attendees and staff made sense of their experience across physical and virtual spaces. I also examined the network-like structure of the multisited church, exploring how technology facilitated and complicated interactions between staff and attendees at different campuses. Finally, I focused on the role of celebrity culture and technology in producing an immersive technological experience, compounding religious, celebrity, and technological meanings. My main interest was in revealing how staff and attendees create and interpret worship services in the megachurch drawing from the hybridized symbolic resources of religion, entertainment culture, and technology in this unique form of Christian practice. Throughout the study, my analysis also uncovers certain discontinuities and conflicts in the megachurch rooted in their organizational model and appropriation of technology and popular culture in the religious context.
Celebrity Culture; Place Attachment; Religion; Technology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Kidwell, Josiah, "Mediating Religion in Las Vegas: An Ethnographic Exploration of Technology, Celebrity Culture, and Place Attachment in a Multisited Megachurch" (2022). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4513.
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