Abstract - The Information Society 15(4)

Face-to-Face and Computer-Mediated Communities, A Comparative Analysis.

Amitai Etzioni and Oren Etzioni

In this article we combine the perspectives of sociology and computer science to compare face-to-face (f2f) and computer-mediated communications (CMC) from the viewpoint of their respective abilities to form and sustain communities. We also identify a third type of community—a hybrid—that is based on a combination of face-to-face (f2f) and CMC (or off- and on-line) communications. The article thus in effect addresses an oft-asked question: Can virtual communities be “real,” have the same basic qualities as f2f communities? The article is exploratory, because much of the necessary evidence has not yet been generated, and the relevant technologies are rapidly changing.

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