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Volume :32 Issue : 4 2004      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Theoretical and Methodological Problems of

Auther : Mohammed Mohieddin

This paper attempts to develop some theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of virtual communities constructed by people on the world wide net. The paper stresses the controversial nature of the concept of ``community and hence the need for an accepted definition of its connotation. It also addresses issues pertaining to social research on electronic communication, such as quantity vs. quality. It indicates the need for studying power relationships and the extent of on-line compatibility as compared to face-to-face relations. Furthermore, the paper sheds some light on certain methodological problems in laboratory experiments ,the construction of time and its impact on research results in the area of electronic communication such as excessive localization and role conflict. In this respect, it concludes that research should not stress the static aspects of communication, rather, research should be more concerned with follow ups. Furthermore, the paper discusses some of the ethical issues involved in studying virtual communities, such as the demarcating lines between the private and the public, and reviews relevant literature on this point. The study further offers suggestions on some specifications required in a computer program to meet the requirements of qualitative analysis of on-line interactions. Finally, it attempts to develop a new perspective for the study of on-line cultural products.

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