PhD papers TD03-003  
Learning as an identity of participation in the processes of online communities

Antoni Garrido []


The objective of this paper is to examine our knowledge of online communities from the perspective of the theory of social learning through examination of online ethnography. With this aim we propose a theoretical framework with which to study the characteristics of communities of practice (Wenger 2001) in the context of online social communities. Thus we examine both the context of the processes which lend coherence to communities in virtual spaces and also the users' identity of participation in their interactions in negotiating meaning, with the aim of making it possible to interpret from an ethnographic perspective how online communities serve as a context for learning and the social generation of knowledge. In order to achieve this aim, an ethnographic study was made of the online community with qualitative field work based on participant observation and analysis of content, for which it was necessary to adapt traditional techniques to the new field of online ethnography, as well as to develop tools for collecting, coding and interpreting the data. The characteristics of the research, the specific nature of the context studied, as well as its limited time span, mean that it should be considered an exploratory study, the chief value of which lies more in testing a model of analysis than in corroborating a theory.


social learning, communities of practice, peripheral participation, legitimacy, lurking, negotiation of meaning, identity, online ethnography

Published on:
January 2003 
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(in Spanish)
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© 2003 by Antoni Garrido
© 2003 by FUOC