Electronic Commerce Research

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 21–37

Power relations in virtual communities: An ethnographic study


    • School of Information SystemsDeakin University
  • Luba Torlina
    • School of Information SystemsDeakin University
  • Konrad Peszynski
    • GS1 Australia
  • Brian Corbitt
    • School of Business Information TechnologyRMIT University

DOI: 10.1007/s10660-006-5986-9

Cite this article as:
Nguyen, L., Torlina, L., Peszynski, K. et al. Electron Commerce Res (2006) 6: 21. doi:10.1007/s10660-006-5986-9


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 relationsVirtual communityKnowledge managementNational culture

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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006