Difference and the Internet: When Ethnic Community Goes On-line
The idea of virtual community is embedded in a deep matrix of McLuhan’s Global Village and the dominant Western cultural influence, Although there is space on-line for an infinite number of virtual communities, they tend to reflect real-world groupings and organizations based on notions of difference. In this context, difference can be seen as perceived variation based on dissimilar characteristics where groupings resemble communities in which members share at least one common interest. And it is this sense of difference that informs our exploration of “virtual ethnicity” (Poster, 1999) in an on-line environment we call Serbia.web. Ethnicity is one such common intersection that helps define a community. Ethnicity is often tied to bioregionality, common geographical colocation, and it is a struggle to maintain ethnic ties as groups spread across the globe under the influence of events such as those in the former Yugoslavia, and in Afghanistan. Since large movements of different ethnic groups around the world are almost commonplace for diasporic reasons, ethnic groups are often faced with the tension of assimilating to new regions and maintaining a sense of ethnic identity. Many groups cultivate on-line communities to ensure that their ethnic identity will not be lost by developing, and participating in, on-line communities.
KeywordsEthnic Identity Online Community Virtual Community Ethnic Community Computer Mediate Communication
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