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Dissertation Information for Rachel Karetnick

- Rachel Karetnick

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- Rutgers University (USA) (2000)

- Hartmut Mokros

- Ronald Rice
- Lisa Covi
- Richard Williams

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Identity in cyberspace: An ethnographic and microanalytic study of participation in a virtual community

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the concept of identity from a communication perspective. The underlying goal is an empirically-based discussion of a theory of identity aimed at increasing understanding of participation and the constitution of identity in computer-mediated environments. Anchored by a constitutive framework (Chelton, 1997; Deetz, 1994; Mokros et al., 1995; Mokros, 1996; Mokros & Deetz, 1996) in which the production and reproduction of reality occurs in communicative practice, the dissertation examines the structuring, experiential, and imaginative/agentive aspects of identity in the context of a Multi-User Dungeon (MUD). MUDs are fictional cyberspace worlds, considered to be metaphors of real communities. Participants create a character, navigate through areas that approximate real space, and interact in real time with others also connected to the site at that time.

Both microanalytic and ethnographic approaches are employed. From a microanalytic standpoint, examination of a meeting in the virtual world allows development of a transcript that preserves both the natural history and communicational structure of the interaction. Interpretive microanalysis then enables identification of features that occur within the interaction, as well as the framing of counterfactuals, possibilities that could have happened. These microanalytic techniques lend themselves well to a discussion of sequential structure and participant activity. Autoethnography and ethnographic interviews strengthen the investigation by addressing the underlying motivations or themes guiding our participation in on-line spaces like MUDs.

The methods of analysis employed here make possible a discussion of participation within an on-line site, and also of the ways in which identity emerges out of lived moments of interaction. Findings suggest that the MUD closely models traditional face-to-face engagement. As in the external world, MUD participants were observed to live in structured social contexts in which the exercise of options was available to them. Thus, virtual spaces emerged as being about more than simply what individuals could do within them based on technology. They were also seen as microworlds embedded within a larger macroworld of cultural practices. In short, the theory of identity advanced by this dissertation is one in which individuals creatively play with identity within the structured context of more enduring social bonds.

MPACT Scores for Rachel Karetnick

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:11:09

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Students under Rachel Karetnick

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