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The Presentation of Avatars in Second Life: Self and Interaction in Social Virtual Spaces


Direct all correspondence to Simon Gottschalk, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5044; e-mail:


What do interactions in virtual spaces suggest about everyday life in the digital age? How do interactions in virtual spaces shape everyday life in the digital age? Guided by hypermodern theory, I conduct participant observation in the social virtual world Second Life to provide tentative answers to those questions. I suggest that Second Life is both a social psychological playground where participants enjoy individualistic fantasies and a virtual community where they collaborate on collective projects. When people define the virtual as real, it is real in its consequences. Accordingly, social virtual spaces such as Second Life offer sociologists unique opportunities for research, education, intervention, and hence the development of a virtual imagination.