Ekstasis and the Internet: Liminality and Computer-Mediated Communication

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Anthropologist Victor Turner suggested that all social worlds are composed of two parallel, yet seemingly contrasting models: society as social structure and society as communitas. The relationships between these two basic elements of human social and cultural life are mediated by ephemeral experiences of liminality. Other major theoretical traditions also recognize these relationships, representing a distinct conceptual framework of direct significance to advancing understandings of the internet. The internet is a natural environment for liminality and ekstasis, a place where self and society must be made to exist in a process where both are translated into the conventions of the medium. Some people actively toy with these representations while others do not. However, in the final analysis these communicative dynamics are rooted in the liminal characteristics of the medium - not the motivations and intents of internet users themselves. Approaching the internet in this way stands in stark contrast to other latent conceptual orientations that are largely concerned with moral dynamics.


Sociology and Corrections

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New Media & Society