Social Capital in a Virtual Community
Despite the fact that the influence of virtual reality has made the world even smaller than before, it also leads to ‘new order’ and ‘digital divide’. Virtual reality has become an increasingly important community for people who possess technological literacy. Therefore, this article attempts to study the characteristics of social capital in virtual community from the case study of the website http://gotoknow.org. Based on findings, it was found that there was no significant difference between weekday users and weekend users. But interestingly, five characteristics influencing the social capital in virtual community were discovered. They were Network Participation, Reciprocal Benefits, Trustworthy, Norms and the Sense of Belonging in virtual space. It can be best argued that the users feel that they are virtual community members; therefore, they feel that they belong to the space. Based on reciprocal benefits, they often use this space to construct their group identity by giving some privileges to other members such as constructive comments, useful information and relevant messages. Undeniably, those who are network participants remain unidentified hence, they agreed to establish some exclusive norms, rules and regulations. Anyone who fails to abide by such norms will be forcefully asked to leave the space. Since network participants still remain anonymous, trust is a problematic concept.
Keywords: Virtual Reality, Social Capital, Virtual Community, Internet Network
Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Management Science, Silpakorn University