Mixing Metaphors: Sociological and Psychological Perspectives on Virtual Communities

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Virtual Community Participation and Motivation: Cross-Disciplinary Theories

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This chapter explores the theoretical and conceptual assumptions underlying the notion of virtual community. Drawing from relevant literature, the author first examines the fundamental properties of the Internet as both technological and cultural artifact and argues that the Internet can embody different technological, functional, and symbolic meanings that will have direct implications for how communities are formed and experienced. Building on that framework, the second part of the chapter focuses on the sociological and psychological bases of community and explores how such conceptions change with the emergence of the Internet. The author concludes that studies of virtual communities must be contextualized according to historical and existing patterns of social life and offers a discussion on new challenges and questions facing mass communications research in this increasingly interdisciplinary area.


Version of record can be found through IGI Global.