Religion on Demand: Faith-based Design

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Abstract:

This article argues that observant Jews, Christians and Muslims are making use of recent innovations in consumer electronics to strengthen their traditional religious practices, and in turn, that "faith-based designs" such as software- and GPS-enhanced cell phones, clocks, MP3 players, and kitchen appliances are creating a culture of "religion on demand." The article proposes a typology of recent faith-based designs, arguing that there are five main ways in which products currently engage with religion, three of which have developed only in the last decade. Given that many of the most recent faith-based designs are generic in appearance – their religious functions are not apparent in their form – this article also suggests that traditional formalist approaches to design history and criticism are inadequate to the task of understanding these new kinds of products.

Keywords: APPLIANCES; CELL PHONES; ELECTRONICS; INDUSTRIAL DESIGN; RELIGION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175470709787375715

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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