Belonging to digital communities

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Kristina Stanzyte
4. semester, Kultur, kommunikation og globalisering, kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The Master's thesis is a contribution to the knowledge of digitalization of traditional human practices, more precisely gathering to the communities, so the object of the paper is digital communities and belonging phenomenon within.
Starting with an attempt to define the current society based on information flows around the globe and technological developments, the research investigates online and offline settings’ correlation and individual’s place within. Touching the main spheres of daily life: economy, labour market, social relations, and culture the current networked society is looked through the prism of networking and digital communication.
In the paper, gathering to virtual (digital) communities is seen as a trendy societal practice. Especially in the economic domain since recent occurrence of new economic modes as sharing economy in C2C field reshaped the whole market. The rise of global and successful brands, mainly operating on the digital platforms, influenced consumption patterns of the certain market segments. Using computer-mediated means for consumption patterns made individuals to gather around certain brands forming global digital communities where individuals establish relations, interact, sell and buy mainly in the disembodied they counting on the hi-tech equipment.
In order to understand how it is possible to belong to the community that has no physical construct in the real life, the choice to investigate the first digitally savvy generational: millennials was reached and several in-depth interviews were made with members of GenY trying to understand their place within digital world. In addition, more abstract group not defined in the sense of generational cohorts was analysed using a case of real digital community using netnography as a method to collect data. The named case is virtual community gathering around Airbnb brand, one the most influential companies in C2C field at the given time.
The research follows social constructivism paradigm and interpretivism tradition. The chosen philosophy of science is understood as handy to capture and analyse meaning people carry about digital world and practices within. The purpose of the study was not to find a general definition of belonging phenomenon in the virtual reality but rather explore how electronic communication is expressed following relationship establishment which and creates the communal sense of belonging and being a part of a group. It is important to mention that digital communication was analysed in a line with traditional one so highlighting uniqueness and specific traits common for virtual interactions.
Udgivelsesdato15 sep. 2017
ID: 262551712