Authors: Simon Lindgren
Addresses: Department of Sociology, Umeå University, SE90187 Umeå, Sweden
Abstract: The paper analyses social and individual processes of social support in an online forum for victims of domestic violence. The main conclusion is that a key mechanism that makes online social support forums work has to do with how the setting is made into a 'community of practice' rather than a mere aggregation of posts or isolated minor exchanges within a common topic. It appears that support forums may function in relatively self-regulating ways as a process of informal socialisation and learning might create engagement and contribute to the creation of an abstract, but still joint, enterprise keeping participants together by mutual engagements and shared histories. Online support forums seem to be in need of 'givers' who have acquired the necessary social capital to function as prime definers that hold the forum together and secures its functioning.
Keywords: social support; online forums; community of practice; network analysis; content analysis; online support; domestic violence forum; mutual engagement; shared histories; social capital; web based communities; online communities; virtual communities.
International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2014 Vol.10 No.2, pp.147 - 157
Available online: 11 Apr 2014 *Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article