Sense of Community: Perceptions of Individual and Group Members of Online Communities

Sense of Community: Perceptions of Individual and Group Members of Online Communities

Piet Kommers (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6038-0.ch001


This chapter addresses the relation community-society in the case of Web-based constellations; how is society represented if we meet Web-based communities? Why are Web-based societies kept invisible while Web-communities emerge as a quasi-natural consequence of Web presence? Did Web-communities flourish because society is absent on the Web? How can we expect the equivalent of societies to penetrate life on the Web? Will there be rules on pre-emptive strike of cyber hackers? etc.
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“Community” refers back to “commune” (in common) and thus contrasts with “Society” that is closer associated with urban aggregations: Divisions of labor, class awareness and the invention of “collective consciousness” (Durkheim, 1997). Sarason (1974) declares sense of community as the willingness to comply with what others expect from them; being a member of a larger structure. Gusfield (1975) discerns the territorial and the relational. We can say that through the Web and its virtuality, the relational aspect of communities have conquered the territorial; even the superimposed topology on relationship patterns seems to fail. Besides family relationships, proximity and adjacency have ruled community membership. “Close friendship” was often misunderstood and led to the notion of “real friendship.” Its basis was that despite a community contours two persons found mutual affinity. It leads to suppose communities as intermediate stage between society and friendship. The “networked society” characterizes as escaping from spatial of ideological proximity; any momentary criterion for making a relationship is valid, as long as there is a mutual sense of sharing or trusting. The fascination was that 2nd and 3rd order relationships developed so well in SNSs (Social Network Sites). Transient networks derive power from its “you, me, here and now.” It is like meeting a person at the bus station, who asks you to share a taxi; the conversation and affinity develops just around this shared need to arrive at another location, without any obligation to ask “why” or “what if.” In a certain way this transient togetherness could be seen as the most pure format for joining as the legitimation to sit together is completely in the incident of location and time; no question on history or ambition.

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