Viewing Cybercommunities through the Lens of Modernity: The Case of Second Life

Viewing Cybercommunities through the Lens of Modernity: The Case of Second Life

Victoria Wang (Department of Computer Science, School of Physical Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK), John V. Tucker (Department of Computer Science, School of Physical Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK) and Kevin Haines (Centre of Criminal Justice and Criminology, School of Law, Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/jvcsn.2013010105
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Abstract

The growth of cybercommunities is a notable social phenomenon. Empirical studies of cybercommunities have described new forms of social behaviour that call for deeper conceptual analysis. Drawing on evidence from our research in the cybercommunity Second Life, the authors examine the sociology of cybercommunities through the lens of Giddens’ abstract theories of modernity. In particular, the authors suggest that an individual’s participation in cybercommunities may be gauged using a spectrum of individual responses to particular abstract conditions of modernity. These abstract conditions have interpretations ranging from seeking refuge from the vicissitudes of the real world to pursuing the playful heights of modernity.
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2. Literature Review: On Cybercommunities And Individuals’ Participation

Academic research on cybercommunities has been wide-ranging and multi-disciplinary (Hercheui, 2010). Although a lot has been said about cybercommunities, there is still much to be researched, as these communities are evolving constantly and rapidly (Artz, 2009). Of course, many different terminologies have been used to describe these virtual social formations, such as Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), Virtual Social Networks (VSNs), virtual worlds, online worlds, virtual communities and online communities. Some of these terms are mainly associated with popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs), such as the Sims and Warcraft 3; whereas others are largely related to some popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

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