Abstract - The Information Society 15(3)

The Gendered Interactional Patterns of Computer-Mediated Chatrooms: A Critical Ethnographic Study

Charles Soukup

This study explores the gendered discourse of social-based computer-mediated contexts. Specifically, the critical ethnography explicates the patterns of discourse of both a sports-related (masculine-dominated) chatroom and a female-based (feminine-dominated) chatroom. Through the participant observations, the researcher discovered that traditionally masculine and feminine forms of discourse dominate the chatrooms. Furthermore, the groups constructed and maintained normative forms of behavior. Masculine participants were aggressive, argumentative, and power-oriented. While feminine participants sought relationships and intimacy, they were often dominated and over-powered by the aggressive discourse of the masculine members. The findings have significant implications for the construction of gender in cyberspace, the normative behavior of computer-mediated communication, and power and gender in the use of technology.

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