Trust and Trust Building of Virtual Communities in the Networked Age

Trust and Trust Building of Virtual Communities in the Networked Age

Qing Zou (McGill University, Canada) and Eun G. Park (McGill University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7381-6.ch014
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Abstract

This is the networked age, when people participate in various virtual communities through a platform or network of communities. Members of the communities communicate in faster and more simultaneous interactions in invisible ways. Since the importance of trust in virtual communities has been widely recognized, trust as a complex, multi-faceted, and context-dependent concept has been examined by many researchers in several disciplines. In this chapter, the authors aim to examine the definitions and characteristics of trust in the context of virtual communities and discuss terms relevant to the concept and types of trust. Relevant issues on trust and trust building in virtual communities are discussed, and future research directions are suggested for further study.
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Background

Community

There have been several different definitions of the term community, which reflects the fact that there may be difficulty and confusion with regards to defining the term (Bhattacharyya, 2004). Since a community seemingly refers to geographic proximity and the characteristics of defining community are similar to those of group (Christenson, Frendley, & Robinson, 1994), the term community is used interchangeably with the term group. Brandon and Hollingshead (2007) define the term group as “an entity comprised of people having interdependent goals, who are acquainted, interact with one another and have a sense of belonging associated with their membership” (p.106). Wilson and Ryder (1996) also agree that groups become communities, “when they interact with each other and stay together long enough to form a set of habits and conventions, and when they come to depend upon each other for accomplishment of certain ends” (p. 801).

Turning to the term community, it is defined as “a constructed arena where multiple people with shared interests interact with each other” (Dehnart, 1999, A standard definition of community, para. 5). In comparing these definitions, we see that three components are shared: people, interaction, and a sense of belonging. In other words, community is composed of people who join as members, they socially interact, and their members have a set of shared denominators as their social identification or a sense of belonging to the community (Christenson et al., 1994). This third component is considered important since people need to have a sense of belonging by occupying a mutual and collective interest or intention to form a community. In line with this notion, the following definitions emphasize a sense of sharing, by saying that community is “any social configuration that possesses shared identity and norms” (Bahattacharyya, 2004, p. 12), or “a social organization of people who share knowledge, value and goals” (Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999, p. 118). To see whether the characteristics of the term community may apply to another term, virtual community, we now examine how differently or similarly people act in the virtual community.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Community: A community that exists online, mainly on the Internet, where its members with similar interests, experience, or shared values take part in social interactions such as share information, knowledge, and experience with other members.

Social Networking: The use of web-based social media programs to interact with peoples for some purposes.

Antecedent: Conditions or factors to support trust building.

Identity: Representation or identification to be distinguished from the other party.

Virtual Community: A community of members to share common purposes over the Internet and social media.

Trust: One party is willing to believe that the other party’s behaviors should accord with the expectation or social norms of the party held.

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