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Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jan A. English-Lueck


Anthropology, Applied Anthropology, Ethnography, Online Communities, Social Media, Web 2.0

Subject Areas

Cultural anthropology; Web studies


As the popularity of Web 2.0 grows, the relationship between the users generating the content of the site and the groups and companies that own these sites is coming into focus. While in previous years, users often were passive users of websites, now they are actively involved in the sites, providing the content that is consumed. This creates a relationship that can be fraught with conflict as all involved have differing ideas of how these sites should function.

By analyzing three incidents in the history of LiveJournal, an online blogging and social communication site, this thesis explored how these communities of users and the organizations that own these sites interact. The information for this analysis was gathered through online participant observation, survey, and systematic archival mining, covering the time period from the founding of the site in 1999 until early 2012. I analyzed how the term "community" is operationalized by these stakeholders, how these communities formed and functioned, and how ideas of ownership impacted these interactions and relationships. By understanding these issues, companies and communities can find ways to build partnerships to sustain and improve their sites rather than being locked in ongoing conflict.