Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities

Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities

Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch086
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Central to research in social psychology is the means in which communities form, attract new members, and develop over time. Research has found that the relative anonymity of Internet communication encourages self-expression and facilitates the formation of relationships based on shared values and beliefs. Self-expression in online social networks enables identity experimentation and development. As identities are fluid, situationally contingent, and are the perpetual subject and object of negotiation within the individual, the presented and perceived identity of the individual may not match reality. In this chapter, the authors consider the psychological challenges unique to understanding the dynamics of social identity formation and strategic interaction in online social networks. The psychological development of social identities in online social network interaction is discussed, highlighting how collective identity and self-categorization associates social identity to online group formation. The overall aim of this chapter is to explore how social identity affects the formation and development of online communities, how to analyze the development of these communities, and the implications such social networks have within education.

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