Community is a society where peoples relations with each other are direct and personal and where a complex web of ties link people in mutual bonds of emotion and obligation.
In the social sciences, especially sociology, the idea of community has provided a model to contrast to the emergence of more modern less personal societies where cultural, economic and technological transformation has uprooted tradition and where complexity has created a less personal and more rationalized and goal-directed social life.
Ferdinand Tönnies, in his 1887 work, "Gemeinschaft (Community) and Gesellschaft (society)", argued that "community" is perceived to be a tighter and more cohesive social entity within the context of the larger "society", due to the presence of a "unity of will."
Beyond the diluted community concept: a symbolic interactionist perspective on online social relations - Jan Fernback, Temple University, USA - New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No. 1, (2007).
The study of cybercommunity is inevitably linked to the development of the internet amid other cultural phenomena, and cybercommunity as a cultural practice has clearly reached a point of critical mass. The concept of online community has become increasingly diluted as it evolves into a pastiche of elements that ostensibly signify community.
This study grapples with the concept of community in cyberspace and suggests alternative ways of characterizing online social relations that avoid the vagaries of community. Based on interviews and a theoretical consideration of online community, it finds that the metaphor of community in cyberspace is one of convenient togetherness without real responsibility. This study suggests a symbolic interactionist approach to the examination of online social relationships that is free of the controversy and structural-functional baggage of the term community. It suggests that community is an evolving process, and that commitment is the truly desired social ideal in social interaction, whether online or offline.
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