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Adolescents' sense of community on myspace and facebook: a mixed-methods approach


  • Special thanks to David Chavis and AnneMarie Conley for feedback on this manuscript.


Communities are foundational to the field of Community Psychology yet they are difficult to define and measure. Once viewed as social groups with ties to geographical locations, online communities interact free of physical or face-to-face contact. This cyberexistence makes the study of communities more challenging. Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and MySpace, are referred to as online communities; however, research has yet to explore whether these sites engender a psychological sense of community (PSC) for users. This study reanalyzes focus group and survey data from high school and college students to investigate whether uses of SNS demonstrate key components of PSC (i.e., membership, influence, immersion, shared emotional connection, and an integration and fulfillment of needs). This mixed-method analysis synthesizes data through a top-down (confirming PSC categories) and bottom-up (identifying emergent patterns/themes) analytic procedure. Results suggest that typical adolescent uses of SNS represent networked individualism, rather than online communities. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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