Sense of Virtual Community

Sense of Virtual Community

Hanna-Kaisa Ellonen, Miia Kosonen, Kaisa Henttonen
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-885-7.ch206
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Virtual communities have been an issue in academic research since the 1990s (c.f., Fernback & Thompson, 1995; Hagel & Armstrong, 1997; Preece, 2000; Rheingold, 2000). In the simplest terms, a virtual community could be defined as a group of people who communicate with each other via electronic media (Romm et al., 1997, p. 261). It was recognized early on that a virtual community may foster a “sense of belonging” (Figallo, 1998), “a social contract” (Sproull & Faraj, 1997) or “an internal set of social norms” (Burnett & Bonnici, 2003). It has also been suggested that these attributes would make such a community more powerful (Figallo, 1998) and successful (Wallace, 1999), representing the glue that keeps people together. According to a recent empirical study (Leimeister et al., 2004), members of virtual communities value these issues highly; for instance, establishing codes of behavior and building trust among members were evaluated among the most important success factors of virtual communities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discussion Forum: Electronic message boards for asynchronous communication, also commonly referred to as Web forums, message boards, discussion boards, discussion groups and bulletin boards

Virtual Community: Groups of people using information system(s) for repeated social interaction to meet a certain need/needs. Virtual communities are also known as online communities or computer-mediated communities (CMC)

Sense of Community: A sense of community is the feeling that members have of belonging, the feeling that the members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that their needs will be met through their commitment to be together (McMillan & Chavis, 1986)

Relationship: Interpersonal relationships are social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people

Sense of Virtual Community: A sense of virtual community is the feeling of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that their needs will be met through their commitment to be together, in a virtual context

Member: An individual who belongs to a social unit, such as to a virtual community

Community Organizer: An organization or group that provides users with a community platform or infrastructure for communication activities

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