Dr. Singh: How Do Sikhs Engage With Sikhi Online?

YouTube is the most popular online platform, with over 60% of respondents saying they most regularly use this to engage with Sikhi-related content

Dr. Jasjit Singh
November 8, 2021 | 2.5 min. read | Opinion

Around ten years ago I was conducting research for my Ph.D., examining how young Sikh adults in Britain learn about Sikhi. I had interviewed several young Sikhs and carried out fieldwork at various places across Britain including in Gurdwaras, at Sikh camps, and at University Sikh societies, when I hit on the idea of carrying out an online survey. 

No online survey of Sikhs had been done at this point, so I thought why not try this innovative method out?

As well as advertising the survey at the events I attended, I posted details on various websites and discussion forums to gather responses (see here). This first-ever online survey of Sikhs gathered 650 responses and was really useful, allowing me to triangulate survey responses with my interview and fieldwork data and I have included some of these in my academic publications to date.

I am now doing it all again, this time examining the impact of technology, media innovations, and the online/digital space. 

So much has changed since I ran the first survey in 2010/11 when the Sikh presence online was mainly to be found on websites, discussion boards, and Yahoo/Google groups. Facebook was the most popular social media application back then, and the Sikh television channels in the UK were just emerging. There are now so many ways to engage with Sikhi online with new innovations emerging all the time, including Clubhouse, Discord, and Twitter Spaces.

At the time of writing the survey has had 767 responses and I would really like to get to 1000 responses if possible. I have had responses from all over the world including the UK, US, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, Portugal, Malaysia, Thailand, and Finland. 

I will be analysing the findings in-depth during 2022, but so far there are some really interesting data coming in.

YouTube is the most popular online platform, with over 60% of respondents saying they most regularly use this to engage with Sikhi-related content. Other significant platforms include Twitter (54%) and Instagram (45%).

Mobile phones are the most popular technology, with over 70% saying they most often use their phones to engage with Sikhi-related content.

I have had 67.5% Male, 32.2% Female, and 0.3% Other responses so far which raises several questions in itself.

There have also been insightful responses as to why people go online to engage with Sikh content and how Sikh values impact on engagement with technology. For 48% of the respondents so far, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed how they engage with Sikhi. I cannot give too much more away now, to ensure I do not influence future responses!

The survey is open to anyone who identifies as 'Sikh', and has been granted ethical approval from the University of Leeds (REF: LTPRHS-038). I launched the survey in July and am currently planning on running it until Gurpurb on Friday, November 19, 2021.

I am also planning on conducting online focus groups in 2022, most probably on Twitter Spaces and Discord, so please look out for these. I’ll be publishing the findings in both academic and non-academic outlets and will present the results online.

Please find the survey here: https://leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/sikhsurvey

Any questions please get in touch. My email is j.s.singh@leeds.ac.uk and my Twitter DMs are open @DrJasjitSingh. And thanks for completing the survey!

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Dr. Jasjit Singh is an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds. His research examines religious identity and processes of religious and cultural transmission among Sikhs in Diaspora. He has successfully completed several research projects examining the religious lives of Sikhs in the diaspora, including an examination of the framing and realities of Sikh activism in Britain. Dr. Singh has a track record in academic and non-academic publications, and regularly engages with media and policymakers on issues facing Sikhs in Diaspora. You can find him on Twitter at @DrJasjitSingh.


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