The nature of virtual communities

  • Daniel Memmi
Part of the Human-Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


The impressive development of electronic communication techniques has given rise to virtual communities. The nature of these computer-mediated communities has been the subject of much recent debate. Are they ordinary social groups in electronic form, or are they fundamentally different from traditional communities? Understanding virtual communities seems a prerequisite for the design of better communication systems. To clarify this debate, we will resort to the classical sociological distinction between small traditional communities (based on personal relations) and modern social groups (bound by looser, more impersonal links). We will argue that the discussion about virtual communities is often vitiated by a simplistic assimilation to traditional communities, whereas they may be in fact quite different and much more impersonal. Virtual communities are often bound by reference to common objects or goals, and not by personal relations. In this respect, virtual communities are just another example of a long-term evolution of modern society toward more abstract social relationships.


Virtual communities Community Gemeinschaft Gesellschaft Cyberspace Groupware Collaborative software Social networks. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Memmi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department d’InformatiqueUQAMMontrealCanada

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