A Virtual Community By Rene Lysloff

1505 Words7 Pages
A ‘virtual community’ is a type of imagined community and is a difficult concept to define; the ambiguous nature of this concept is highlighted by the many definitions created by researchers. A Virtual Community is when “Individuals communicate and form a relationship with each other in a computer mediated space with the use of technology".

Anthropologists undergo the practice of participation observation on the internet , allowing them to experience a virtual community; this shapes their understanding and knowledge of this concept. For that reason each individual has different criteria which they believe a community must correlate to, in order for it to be classed as a virtual community. Furthermore, another issue surrounding the ability
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Furthermore, the Oxford definition states that a ‘Virtual Community’ is “a community of people sharing common interests, Ideas and feelings over the Internet”. However, this definition does not consider the non-physical space at which this community materializes , ‘Cyberspace is a metaphor for this non-physical computer mediated terrain. Vangie Beal- Cyberspace-Webopedia

There are different types of Imagined Communities, including virtual and digital. In virtual communities the people involved are characters and are non-existent, an example of this is Cybercity. Alternatively , Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are considered digital as they consist of people with real identities and the actions they make on the ‘net’ have real effects outside of ‘Cyberspace’. Barry Wellman, author of ‘imagining twitter as an imagined community’ views Twitter to as both real and Imagined, real because ‘participants interact with each other’ and have decisions have real life consequence and Imagined because they all “share a sense of community”. This ‘imagined’ sense of community corresponds to Benedict Anderson’s view of nationalism. Benedict Anderson’s concept of Imagined Communities is a good starting point into understanding the concept of Virtual Communities. In Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities-Reflections of the origins and spread of nationalism, he defines the nation as a ‘imagined political community’(B. Anderson 2006, p.7 ). Imagined because
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