Laidlaw Research Seminar - Graeme Flett
Smartphone use and the body life of congregants

The smartphone, as an extension of the body’s nervous system, is a significant communicative device regularly used by congregants to interact, communicate and make sense of their place in the world.

This paper discusses the effects of new media on the (body) life of congregations by applying McLuhan’s four laws of media to the use of smartphone technology by members. This move acknowledges there are hidden properties at play within all (new) media tools. These tools are configured digitally to facilitate meaning by extending our perceptual senses, particularly the eye and the ear. Such extensions alter perceptions of self, the body and the poetic infrastructures of our making.

Given that a Western ontology divides mind and body—is blind to the sensory-motor functions which operate below the surface of our conscious thoughts—smartphone device use appears incidental; I argue the poetics surrounding them are not. While digital mobility consciously separates the mind from the body, it does not dissolve the body’s intrinsic role in the meaning-making enterprise. This emphasises that, for congregations, the primacy of the body is significant.

The seminar will be held at the Henderson Campus in LR8, and via zoom here. Meeting ID: 813 8038 4263

Where Henderson Campus
When 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Cost FREE & open to the public

About the Speaker

Graeme Flett is a faculty member of the School of Theology at Laidlaw and specialises in pastoral and practical theology. He is also a senior coach working with the Centre for Church Leadership. Graeme recently completed his PhD thesis where he focussed on media ecology and the influence of new media on congregational life, specifically looking at Christian identity and embodied practices. He is married to Linda (a hospital chaplain) and has three married daughters and 2 grandchildren. He is also a keen woodworker and enjoys designing and making bespoke furniture.     

About Laidlaw Research Seminars

As a part of Laidlaw’s commitment to relevant, gospel-centred, innovative research, the School of Theology faculty gather each month for a research seminar. The seminars are built around a simple format – one academic presentation followed by critical interaction. Anyone is welcome to join us – this could include postgrad students, researchers from other institutions, or any others looking to hear and interact with cutting edge theological and biblical research.