VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES AS A FORM OF SOCIAL ASSOCIATION
Fakultet za Menadzment, Novi Sad (SERBIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The development of modern technology has provided for the Internet user to sail into the virtual world, which he creates by himself or which already „lives“ on a global computer network. „Residents“ of the virtual world realize a specific social interaction and establish virtual social relationships through computer communication. One of the forms of social life on the Internet are social groups created in cyber-space, which are mostly referred to as virtual communities. All the needs for socializing can be realized in virtual community, because it does not set any limitations which otherwise exist in every-day human communication. It does not determine the age, sex, national, ethical, political or religious affiliation, nor it cares about educational structure, residence location, wealth that each member of that community has, family characteristics.
Among the most current issues of modern sociology, there are virtual communities of post-industrial period and cyber-groups that are formed in so-called cyber-space. These issues have opened numerous dilemmas among sociologists concerning the character of those communities and groups, i.e. whether they can be considered communities and groups in sociological sense. The emergence of virtual communities is sociologically explained by the fact that human life unfolds in three spaces: in the space where we live, in the space where we work and in the space where we gather for the sake of socializing. Virtual community, i.e. cyber-groups, is a „place for socializing“, according to many people. Truly speaking, that place is not spatially located, but it exists in the imagination of each individual who joins the community.
For the moment, we cannot say in which way all of that will influence on social development of ours but one thing is for sure, people are social beings, either in real or virtual world. Today, when technology helps us to perform different tasks more rapidly, it also helps us to be in contact with a great number of people and to exchange a much greater number of different opinions, which can contribute to our education and updating of our knowledge. Of course, there are abuses, they also exist in the real life but we have to learn how to protect from them, which means that cyber-education is necessary as the home education is, and our survival in cyber-society will depend on that. Precisely this paper attempts to take into consideration the sociological aspects of virtual communities as a form of modern society socialization, i.e. social association with all its advantages and disadvantages.
Keywords: Virtual communities, virtual society, cyber groups, cyber space, cyber culture, socialization, social association.