Abstract - The Information Society 14(2)

The Net as a Foraging Society: Flexible Communities

Lee Komito

In discussions about electronic and virtual communities, community can variously refer to a moral community, a normative community, a community of practice, an intentional community, or proximate community. The concept of 'community' is, itself, deemed unproblematic, and often is used in either a reductivist or ethnocentric manner. An exploration of non-industrial foraging societies is used to illustrate the wide variation in types and definitions of communities that exists. Social groups in foraging societies exhibit characteristics similar to those observed in technologically-mediated social groups, and these similarities illustrate the deficiencies of typological or ideal-type definitions of 'community', as well as the artificial nature of a division between 'real' and 'electronic' communities. Groups which depend on computer mediated communication amongst members can, and should, be examined using the same social science concepts and methods used to examine any other social groups.

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