Edited By Howard Giles and Anne Maass
The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
Chapter Ten: Social Media and Intergroup Communication: Collapsing and Expanding Group Contexts
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Social Media and Intergroup Communication
Expanding Identification and Collapsing Contexts
CALEB T. CARR, ERIC J. VARNEY, AND J. RYAN BLESSE
The “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” Facebook community1 is comprised of 1,812 members, who use the forum to continue one of the most contested and persistent debates in science fiction. Just as in traditional Web-based chat fora, individuals post information about and argue the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two titular franchises, clustering into two distinct groups based on members’ attitudes and subsequent social identities (see Walther & Carr, 2010). Star Wars fans argue the merits of George Lucas’s galaxy far, far away and decry the naiveté of any Starfleet cadet striving to wear a red shirt; while Star Trek fans concurrently advocate Gene Rodenberry’s egalitarian Federation and mock Darth Vader’s crippling asthma. As these interactions occur, ingroups and outgroups form, wherein individuals polarize with others holding similar views on the issue and distancing themselves from members who do not share their views on the technological terrors that were the Death Stars.
Elsewhere on Facebook, the 5,047 members of the “1,000,000 Strong Against Gay Marriage” community2 address arguably more substantive social issues. The name of the community suggests a common social identity among members, who should be bound by their shared beliefs rejecting the legality of same-sex marriage. And yet posts to the group’s timeline often are by non-community members who...
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