Defending community: Difference and utopia online

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Users of electronic forums often invest quite seriously in their on-line creations and communications because they see them as places to fulfil utopian dreams. However, because people have different notions of 'the good life', conflict inevitably ensues about the particular form the community should take. I examine this phenomenon as it manifested in two political debates on LambdaMOO, an electronic community accessible through the Internet. The debaters resorted to discourse from real-world political discussions - using metaphors of ethnicity, immigration, colonialism, tourism, and first peoples' rights - in order to protect their 'community' and 'culture' from perceived internal division and external threat. The justifications for generating these boundaries came from the real world, yet paradoxically, to users of LambdaMOO, the boundaries emphasized LambdaMOO's separation from the real world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-414
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies


  • Community
  • Cultural politics
  • Nationalism
  • Utopia
  • Virtual Rsseality


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