Making the online complementary to the offline: Social requirements to foster the ‘sense of community’

Lotte Vermeir, Tim Van Lier, Jos Pierson, Bram Lievens, Lotte Vermeir (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

When looking at people's networks and contacts, the concept of community has a central position. Authors like Tönnies in the late '50s as well as more recent authors like Putnam stress the importance of communities. Today people are empowered by all types of information and communication technologies that could support not only the networks and contacts but also the community aspect. But do these technologies enhance the community feeling?

In this paper we explore the concepts of 'sense of community' and 'social requirements' in order to address the research question in what way an online community application can facilitate or even enhance the sense of community within an offline community. The first concept (sense of community) refers to a common feeling shared by all the community members. The latter concept (social requirements) translates the social relations and practices within the community into design and developments requirements.

For this we use the empirical data of two complementary research projects on offline communities. In the first project we used an ethnographic research to outline the existing social relations within the community. In the second project we focused on structures and practices of communities by means of a more traditional qualitative approach.

Our research - being work in progress - seems to acknowledge that these ICTs can indeed enable an online community environment to facilitate and even enhance the sense of community in an offline community, both for people who are already a member of the community (a 'deeper' sense of community) and for people who become a member of the community through the online environment (a 'broader' sense of community). But this can only be done when certain social requirements are taken into account that enable commitment and imagining, as these are two essential elements for establishing the sense of community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the World Congress on Media and Global Divides of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR 2008), 21-25 July 2008, Stockholm, Sweden
PublisherIAMCR-Stockholm University
ISBN (Print)91-88354-30-X
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series

NameMedia and Global Divides. IAMCR World Congress

Conference

ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet
CountrySweden
CityStockholm
Period21/09/0925/09/09

Keywords

  • Social requirements
  • sense of community
  • Citizen Media
  • VIN

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