Title: The development of a sense of virtual community

Authors: Hanna-Kaisa Ellonen, Miia Kosonen, Kaisa Henttonen

Addresses: Lappeenranta School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20, FIN-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland. ' Lappeenranta School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20, FIN-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland. ' Lappeenranta School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20, FIN-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland

Abstract: The feelings of membership in a virtual community have recently been conceptualised as a Sense of Virtual Community (SOVC). This paper explores its presence and development in one case community, an active virtual community we call Baby and Pregnancy community (BAP). On the basis of our analysis of triangulated qualitative data (narratives, interviews and observation), we suggest a refined SOVC framework that captures its antecedents and processes. We argue that there are three main antecedents of SOVC, namely, needs, similarity with other members, and impersonal trust, and that SOVC develops through the three processes of exchanging support, creating and making identification, and producing interpersonal trust.

Keywords: sense of community; virtual community; web based communities; online communities; needs; similarity; impersonal trust; interpersonal trust; identification; support.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2007.013778

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2007 Vol.3 No.1, pp.114 - 130

Published online: 27 May 2007 *

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