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Virtual sociability: from community to communitas (Selected Papers from the Purdue Online Interaction Seminar Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Brian Britt , Sorin Adam Matei

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Book Description

To what degree can the human exchanges we observe online be called “sociability”? In other words, do these exchanges amount to any meaningful type of social organization? Are they more than the mere froth of collective emotion discharging its energy with a lot of noise but little consequence against the wave breakers of social media? Do the social interactions that take place in virtual space—all those kind or not-so-kind words sent back and forth—suggest the same level of commitment, dedication, morality, passion, or even depravity that we see in everyday life? Or, more succinctly, is sociability online less “social,” less “real” than what we see in everyday life?

The present collection of papers reflects some of the most insightful contributions to the Purdue Online Interaction Seminar. Representing a variety of interpretive frameworks, the conversation is circumscribed by a number of themes, of which two are most important. The first one is the nature of online sociability. Are or could online groups be “community-like,” bound by ties as strong as those of kith and kin? Should they be qualified as a type of contractual, rational, self-interested “society”? Or should we propose a new interpretive framework? Should online communities be seen as a type of “communitas”, which is a form of social aggregation that appears during certain initiation rituals? If this is so, are communitas-like virtual spaces characterized by the same transient, liminal state that mixes a variety of contradictory characteristics (temporary and permanent, close and distant, essential and fleeting) that we observe in other types of "communitas"? Can virtual communitas lead to social and personal transformation, just like its traditional counterpart?

Table of Contents

Sorin Adam Matei
The book is dead! Long live the ubibook!
User Guide

Susan Huelsing Sarapin
Front Porches and Public Spaces: Planned Communities Online

Pamela Morris
Glimpses of Community on the Web

Brenda Berkelaar Van Pelt
Peering Behind the Curtain: The Virtual Wizard Offers No Guarantees

Brian C. Britt
The Invisible Man: Speaking into the Online Void

Robert N. Yale
Welcome to I-berspace: Media Gratifications in Successful Virtual Communities

Christina Kalinowski
Individualism Online: Virtually Escaping the ‘Massness’ or Vanishing into the ‘Electrovoid’?

W. Scott Sanders
SIDE Theory, Small World Networks, and Smart Mob Formation: A Beginner’s Guide

Online Interaction Seminar: Selected Readings and Discussion Topics

Author Biographies

Product Details

  • File Size: 239 KB
  • Print Length: 120 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: InterAcademic Press / Ideagora (April 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004WSXU58
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #843,331 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sorin Adam Matei, PhD was educated at Bucharest University (BA in History and Philosophy), Tufts University (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, MA in International Relations), and University of Southern California (Annenberg School for Communication, PhD in Communication). He is currently an Associate Professor of Communication at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Dr. Matei is a former BBC World Service journalist and is still actively involved with journalistic projects. He published academic articles in Journal of Communication, American Behavioral Scientist, Communication Research and Information society ( His columns, photographs, and essays have been published in Foreign Policy, Esquire Magazine, and the top national Romanian language newspapers. He is also the creator of the publishing platforms Visbile Past (, Visible Effort ( and Ubimark ( and of the site Mental Maps ( He is also the author of the Romanian language book "The Mind Boyars" (, the co-editor of "Idols of the Forum" (, and the publisher of (


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