[Air-l] Re: community-company, and all that

Bram Dov Abramson bda at bazu.org
Tue Dec 25 16:27:49 PST 2001

wellman at chass.utoronto.ca:
>Never thought I'd have to lecture social scientists, even those interested
>in the Internet.
>It's pretty clear that you can have community within a company -- that's
>what much ofindustrial relations and communities of practice literature is
>about. But even with that, community doesn't become an identity with
>company. They are 2 analytically separate things.

I doubt that anyone would disagree -- sounds like there's a straw man here.

The question, as I have heard it, has rather been as to the 
institutional locations of the practices through which "communities" 
come into being, where community is described as a particular form of 
sociability.  An answer to that question is to say that, certainly, 
community-building practices can be mobilized by companies, and have 

What this has to do with positing an identity between "community" and 
"company", on the other hand, is somewhat mysterious.  Perhaps the 
lecture can wait ;-).

On the other hand, danah at media.mit.edu wrote:
>Also, as Bram mentionned, by trying to bound community, companies are also
>trying to regulate identity (the Passport phenomenon).  Through things
>like Passport, they can define _who_ belongs to what communities.  I have
>a rant on how this fails to recognize that 1) people belong to multiple
>communities; 2) people share different facets with different communities;

... in which I'd replace "fails to recognize" with "fully recognizes 
and targets the fact that".  As in, many corporate community-building 
strategies are *very* aware that people are members of different 
communities, etc., etc. -- but their goal is to change that.  (Well, 
their *strategy* is to change that and realign people with their 
company, ie capture eyeballs, customers, etc.)

Now, saying that isn't the same thing as dismissing all 
company-mediated involvement in community-building: I'm only talking 
about a specific kind of company-mediated community-building.  It's 
the kind which tries to convert wins at certain layers into necessary 
affiliations at other layers.  Vertical tying, in other words, of the 
type Felix talked about the other day.


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