The Anthropology of Online Communities

Samuel M.Wilson and Leighton C. Peterson
Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 2002. 31:449–67

Abstract
Information and communication technologies based on the Internet have enabled the emergence of new sorts of communities and communicative practices—phenomena worthy of the attention of anthropological researchers. Despite early assessments of the revolutionary nature of the Internet and the enormous transformations it would bring about, the changes have been less dramatic and more embedded in existing practices and power relations of everyday life. This review explores researchers’ questions, approaches, and insights within anthropology and some relevant related fields, and it seeks to identify promising new directions for study. The general conclusion is that the technologies comprising the Internet, and all the text and media that exist within it, are in themselves cultural products. Anthropology is thus well suited to the further investigation of these new, and not so new, phenomena.

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