Publication details [#3029]

Brown, Nicole R. 2003. Constructing "community" online: A discussion of metaphor, meaning, and rhetorical action. West Lafayette, Ind.. 173 pp.
Publication type
Ph.D dissertation
Publication language


The increased use(s) of communication technologies in our lives and in our writing classrooms have prompted critical and reflective discourse on the politics of the interface (Selfe and Selfe), the politics of access (Moran), and also of virtual geographies (Doheny-Farina). One useful means for understanding such politics is to look closely at the language used to describe the online contexts in which we work, play, and interact. This project articulates how the term "community" has been used metaphorically to identify, describe, and construct online contexts and groups - online communities. It looks at how one particular online discussion group - Spreadnet - socially constructs and negotiates the meaning of the term and how such negotiation influences the [inter]actions, values, and social norms within the group. Using findings from a three-year ethnographic case study, "community" is approached as a metaphor, cultural artifact, or terministic screen that constructs and in turn is constructed by the dominant and silenced discourses associated with online groups. By approaching "community" online critically and rhetorically, this project creates possibilities for enacting Andrew Feenberg's 'critical theory of technology'. Such a theory can be used to develop online contexts inside and outside of writing classrooms that create opportunities for more networked approaches to online groups. (Nicole Brown)