Review: Christian Stegbauer (2001). Grenzen virtueller Gemeinschaft – Strukturen internetbasierter Kommunikationsforen [Boundaries of Virtual Communities—Structures of Internet-based Communication Fora]

Christian Carls


Christian STEGBAUER discusses a common thesis for community development in the Internet as well as "popular destructuring fictions"—among them the assumption that in communication in virtual space "real life" origins, roles and status have no (or strongly reduced) importance. The core of the book is the presentation of STEGBAUER's own empirical study on interaction patterns in selected mailing lists, reconstructed by means of quantitative analysis. The book contains interesting portrayals of classic models of community and group as well as one from the viewpoint of quantitative network analysis. While the means of quantification of this observation is creative and interesting, the reconstructed interaction structures, the identification of stronger central actors with high engagement in a wide variety of discussion threads, and patterns of discussions in sub-groups, are, in view of the size of most of the examined lists, not surprising. Due to the limits of analysis of interaction in mailing lists, the question about the possibility of virtual community in virtual space remains unanswered—if it is taken into consideration that interaction over various and functionally differentiated channels represents a success factor for virtual communities and groups.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0401329


virtual communication; virtual groups; online communities; virtual rooms; virtual mobility; mailing lists; network analysis


Copyright (c) 2004 Christian Carls

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.