Electronic Commerce Research

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 21-37

First online:

Power relations in virtual communities: An ethnographic study

  • Lemai NguyenAffiliated withSchool of Information Systems, Deakin University Email author 
  • , Luba TorlinaAffiliated withSchool of Information Systems, Deakin University
  • , Konrad PeszynskiAffiliated withGS1 Australia
  • , Brian CorbittAffiliated withSchool of Business Information Technology, RMIT University

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Peoples' need to socialize with others and greed for power can be best captured with Aristotle's description of human beings as “political animals”/“social animals.” This paper reports on observations of how cyber communities, such as Web-based forums and mailing lists, manifest themselves through social interactions and shared values, membership and friendship, and commitments and loyalty. The paper highlights the importance of power relations in these communities, how they are formed, exercised and evolve. This paper explores power relations as they emerge in two online Vietnamese communities and suggests a new understanding of the formation and evolution of power in virtual societies.


Power relations Virtual community Knowledge management National culture