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‘Crafting Self-Identity in a Virtual Community’ / Robert Tian; Yan Wu

Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Volume: 1, Issue: 4, Pages: 238 - 258

Swansea University Author: Wu, Yan

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Abstract

To study the process of constructing self identity by Internet users is achallenging task for social scientists, while the use of ethnographic method instudying the interactions among individuals in an online virtual community is byno means of easy job. Employing qualitative studies as the main rese...

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Published in: Multicultural Education & Technology Journal
ISSN: 1750-497X
Published: Multicultural Education & Technology Journal 2007
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa878
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Abstract: To study the process of constructing self identity by Internet users is achallenging task for social scientists, while the use of ethnographic method instudying the interactions among individuals in an online virtual community is byno means of easy job. Employing qualitative studies as the main researchapproach, the authors conducted a case study of the Qiangguo Luntan, a virtualcommunity for the mainland Chinese, with a focus on its users’ identitiesconstructed politically. The paper examines the users’ pennames, signature files,online behaviours such as lurking and flaming and political clusters formed ondifferent ideological viewpoints and argues that Internet bulletin boards asvirtual communities in China are used as social institutions in the public spherealthough this virtual public sphere still has its limitations in terms ofinclusiveness, autonomy, and people’s public use of their reason.
Item Description: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the construction of virtual community identities among Chinese internet users and their motivation for lurking, posting or flaming. Design/methodology/approach – Taking Qiangguo Luntan as an online study site the authors apply an ethnographic approach for the research, a method that is becoming more and more favourable by scholars in study virtual communities. The data gathered are mainly through participant observation and in-depth interviews. Findings – The findings suggest that internet bulletin boards enable ordinary Chinese to have their identities as politically activated citizens constructed in cyberspace. A consistent enthusiasm for political participation can be found in user's pennames, signature files, political clusters, and online behaviours. Originality/value – This is an original case study.
Keywords: internet bulletin boards, political sense, public sphere, self
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 4
Start Page: 238
End Page: 258