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Title: Deviance in a cybercommunity
Author: Wang, Victoria
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2009
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Are cybercommunities new 'hotbeds of deviance'? Current research on deviance in cybercommunities seems to suggest that some fundamental characteristics of these communities, such as anonymity, have resulted in high levels of deviance. To achieve a fresh and deeper understanding, this thesis explores, theoretically and empirically, the nature of deviance in cybercommunities in the context of a thorough sociological account of the conditions and characteristics of modernity. Drawing on ideas mainly from Giddens' theories of modernity, the formation and various aspects of cybercommunities may be understood as extreme products of modernity. This research aims to meld theory and empirical work together to achieve a coherent account of deviance in cybercommunities. Giddens' theories form an abstract framework, which places the research in a particular theoretical position where the relevance for criminology of the general social theory of Giddens, is analysed. During the empirical investigation, these theories are used as a set of guidelines to direct and shape the identification of the four main research themes: norm, power, self-identity and conformity, as well as, the collection of data. Next, Giddens' notions, such as time space distanciation, transformation of intimacy and reflexivity, alongside the four main themes, are central to the reflexive and coherent account of deviance in Second Life in Chapter Five (Understanding Deviance in Second Life). In accordance with the interpretive relationship between theory and empirical work, this research couples a grounded theory approach with adaptive theorising. Special attention is paid to the use of technologies that are native to cybercommunities in the research process. The cybercommunity Second Life is selected as a research field, because it may be understood as an exemplar of modernity, both sociologically and technologically. Through an in-depth analysis of data gathered from online participant observation, questionnaire and discussion in a Second Life residential forum, this research shows that the deviance in cybercommunities may not necessarily mean any 'real' deviance in these communities, but reflects some broader social anxieties born out of, and associated with, the conditions of modernity. The thesis concludes by stressing the questionable effectiveness of technology as a regulator, both in Second Life and in the real world, and advocates the importance of social bond as a mediator of deviance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available