Conflict and identity shape shifting in an online financial community

Campbell, J, Fletcher, G ORCID: and Greenhill, A 2009, 'Conflict and identity shape shifting in an online financial community' , Information Systems Journal, 19 , pp. 461-478.

[img] PDF
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (122kB)


This paper challenges traditional explorations of online communities that have relied upon assumptions of trust and social cohesion. In the analysis presented here, conflict becomes more than just dysfunctional communication and provides an alternative set of unifying principles and rationales for understanding social interaction and identity shape shifting within an online community. A model is advanced that describes the systematic techniques of hostility and aggression in technologically enabled communities that take the form of contemporary tribalism. It is argued that this tribe-like conflict embodies important rituals essential for maintaining and defining the contradictory social roles sometimes found in online environments. This research offers a critical interpretive perspective that focuses on the link between identity shape shifting behaviours and the power relations within an online financial community. The analysis reveals how conflict between positions of power can help to align the values and ideals of an online community. With this study we seek to motivate a re-examination of the design and governance of online communities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: John Campbell: Anita Greenhill:
Themes: Subjects / Themes > G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School > Salford Business School Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Information Systems Journal
Publisher: Blackwell
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1365-2575
Depositing User: Gordon Fletcher
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2009 14:01
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 08:33
References: Atkinson, P. (1990) The Ethnographic Imagination: Textual Constructions of Reality. Routledge, London, UK. Avison, D.E. & Myers, M.D. (1995) Information systems and anthropology: an anthropological perspective on IT and organizational culture. Information Technology & People, 8, 43–56. Beattie, J. (1964) Other Cultures: Aims, Methods and Achievements in Social Anthropology. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, UK. Benedict, R. (1935) Patterns of Culture. Routledge and Kegal Paul, London, UK. Blanchard, A.L. & Markus, M.L. (2004) The experienced ‘sense’ of a virtual community: characteristics and processes. Data Base for Advances in Information Systems, 35, 65–79. Breton, S. (1999) Death and the ideology of compensation among the Wodani, western highlands of Irian Jaya. Social Anthropology, 7, 297–326. Burridge, K.O.L. (1965) Tangu, Northern Madang District. In: Gods, Ghosts and Men in Melanesia, Lawrence, P. & Meggitt, M.J. (eds.), pp. 224–249. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia. Campbell, J.A. (2001) In and out scream and shout: an Internet conversation about stock price manipulation. In: Proceedings of the 34th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Sprague, Information Systems Journal 19, 461–478 R.H. (ed.), pp. 1–10. IEEE Press, Los Alamitos, CA, USA. Campbell, J., Fletcher, G. & Greenhill, A. (2007) Designing sustainable virtual world ecosystems. Data Base for Advances in Information Systems, 38, 29–32. Carroll, M. (1981) Levi-Strauss, Freud, and the trickster: a new perspective upon an old problem. American Ethnologist, 8, 301–313. Chagnon, N. (1983) Yanomamo – the Fierce People. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, NY, USA. Chenoweth, N. (2006) Hot copper: how day traders fuelled a $1bn frenzy. The Australian Financial Review, 13 October, pp. 1, 72–73. Cohen, S.G. & Bailey, D.E. (1997) What makes teams work: group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management, 23, 239– 290. Cybenko, G., Giani, A. & Thompson, P. (2002) Cognitive hacking: a battle for the mind. Computer, 35, 50–56. Dentan, R.K. (1979) The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Fort Worth, TX, USA. Dibbell, J. (1998) My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World. Henry Holt, New York, NY, USA. Doolin, B. & McLeod, L. (2005) Towards critical interpretivism in IS research. In: Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research: Theory and Application, Howcroft, D. & Trauth, E.M (eds.), pp. 244–271. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK. Evans-Pritchard, E.E. (1976) Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK. Firth, R. (1958) Human Types: An Introduction to Social Anthropology. Thomas Nelson and Sons, Edinburgh, UK. Fletcher, G., Greenhill, A. & Campbell, J. (2006) Fight club: culture, conflict and everyday life amongst an online community. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2, 474–489. Forester, J. (1992) Critical ethnography: on fieldwork in a Habermasian way. In: Critical Management Studies, Alvesson, M. & Willmott, H. (eds.), pp. 1–20. Sage Publications, London, UK. Foster, G.M. (1965) Peasant society and the image of limited good. American Anthropologist, 67, 293–315. Fried, M. (1975) The Notion of the Tribe. Cummings Publishing, Menlo, Park, CA, USA. Geyskens, I., Steenkamp, J. & Kumar, N. (1998) Generalisations about trust in marketing channel relationships using meta-analysis. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 15, 223–248. Glasse, R. M. (1965) The Huli of the southern highlands. In: Gods, Ghosts and Men in Melanesia, Lawrence, P. & Meggitt, M.J. (eds.), pp. 27–49. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia. Godelier, M. & Scott, S. (2003) The enigma of gift. Ethnohistory, 50, 410–411. Godelier, M. & Strathern, M. (1991) Big Men and Great Men: Personifications of Power in Melanesia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Grey, C. & Garsten, C. (2001) Trust, control and postbureaucracy. Organization Studies, 22, 229–250. Grimble, A. (1954) A Pattern of Islands. The Reprint Society, London, UK. Handy, C. (1995) Trust and the virtual organization. Harvard Business Review, 73, 40–48. Hinds, P.J. & Bailey, D.E. (2003) Out of sight, out of sync: understanding conflict in distributed teams. Organization Science, 14, 615–632. Hinds, P.J. & Mortensen, M. (2005) Understanding conflict in geographically distributed teams: the moderating effects of shared identity, shared context, and spontaneous communication. Organization Science, 16, 290–307. Jarvenpaa, S., Knoll, K. & Leidner, D. (1998) Is anybody out there? Antecedents of trust in global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 14, 29–64. Keesing, R.M. (1935) Cultural Anthropology: A Contemporary Perspective. Rinehart and Winston, Fort Worth, TX, USA. Knights, D. (2001) Chasing shadows: control, virtuality and the production of trust. Organization Studies, 22, 311– 336. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning. Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Leach, E. (1976) Culture and Communication: The Logic by which Symbols are Connected. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Lewis, H.S. (1998) The misrepresentation of anthropology and its consequences. American Anthropologist, 100, 716–731. Li, X., Valacich, J.S. & Hess, T.J. (2004) Predicting user trust in information systems: a comparison of competing trust models. In: Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Sprague, R.H. (ed.), pp. 1–10. IEEE Press, Los Alamitos, CA, USA. Lindenbaum, S. (2002) Fore narratives through time. Current Anthropology, 43, 563–573. Malinowski, B. (1979) The Ethnography of Malinowski: The Trobriand Islands. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, UK. Mayer, R.C., Davis, J.H. & Schoorman, F.D. (1995) An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 23, 709–734. McAllister, D.J. (1995) Affect- and cognition-based trust as foundations for interpersonal cooperation in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 24–59. McKnight, D.H., Cummings, L.L. & Chervany, N.L. (1998) Initial trust formation in new organizational relationships. Academy of Management Review, 23, 473–490. Meggitt, M. (1965) The Mae Enga of the western highlands. In: Gods, Ghosts and Men in Melanesia, Lawrence, P. & Meggitt, M.J. (eds.), pp. 105–131. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia. Montoya-Weiss, M.M., Massey, A.P. & Song, M. (2001) Getting it together: temporal coordination and conflict management in global virtual teams. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 1251–1262. Mumby, D.K. (1988) Communications and Power in Organizations; Discourse, Ideology and Dominations. Ablex, Norwood, NJ, USA. Murdock, G. (1967) Ethnographic Atlas. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Muyskens, J. (1998) Web trust: assurances and e-commerce. Australian Accountant, 68, 56–57. Myers, M.D. (1997) Critical ethnography in information systems. In: Information Systems and Qualitative Research, Lee, A.S., Liebenau, J. & DeGross, J.I. (eds.), pp. 277–300. Chapman and Hall, London, UK. Myers, M.D. (1999) Investigating information systems with ethnographic research. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 2, 1–19. Myers, M.D. & Young, L.W. (1997) Hidden agendas, power and managerial assumptions in information systems development – an ethnographic study. Information Technology & People, 10, 224–240. Ngwenyama, O. & Lee, A. (1997) Communication richness in electronic mail: critical theory and the contextuality of meaning. MIS Quarterly, 21, 145–167. Oxendine, A., Borgida, E., Sullivan, J. & Jackson, M. (2003) The importance of trust and community in developing and maintaining a community electronic network. International Journal of Human–Computer Studies, 58, 671–696. Papstein, R. (1989) From ethnic identity to tribalism: the Upper Zambezi Region of Zambia 1830–1989. In: The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa, Vail, L. (ed.), pp. 372–394. James Currey, London, UK. Radin, P. (1956) The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology. Schocken. New York, NY, USA. Ridings, C.M., Gefen, D. & Arinze, B. (2002) Some antecedents and effects of trust in virtual communities. Rutter, J. (2001) From the sociology of trust towards a sociology of ‘e-trust’. International Journal of New Product Development & Innovation Management, 2, 371–385. Salisbury, R.F. (1965) The Siane of the eastern highlands. In: Gods, Ghosts and Men in Melanesia, Lawrence, P. & Meggitt, M.J. (eds.), pp. 50–77. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia. Shapiro, S.P. (1987) The social control of impersonal trust. American Journal of Sociology, 93, 623–658. Silverman, E.K. (2001) From totemic space to cyberspace: transformations in Sepik River and aboriginal Australian myth. In: Emplaced Myth: Space, Narrative, and Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea, Rumsey, A. & Weiner, J.F. (eds.), pp. 189–214. University of Hawaii Press, HI, USA. Smart, A. (1993) Gifts, bribes and guanxi: a reconsideration of Bourdieu’s social capital. Cultural Anthropology, 8, 388–408. Stahl, B.C. (2003) The moral and business value of information technology: what to do in case of a conflict? In: Creating Business Value with Information Technology: Challenges and Solutions, Shin, N. (ed.), pp. 187–202. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, PA, USA. Stewart, K.J. (1999) Transference as a means of building trust in World Wide Web site, In: Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Information Systems, De, P. & DeGross, J.I. (eds.), pp. 459–464. Association for Information Systems, Atlanta, GA, USA. Stewart, P.J. & Strathern, A. (1999) Feasting on my enemy: images of violence and change in the New Guinea highlands. Ethnohistory, 46.4, 645–669. Suzuki, P. T. (2004) Tribe: chimeric or polymorphic. Studies of Tribes and Tribals, 2, 113–118. Tweney, D. (1998) Lack of trust hurts consumer commerce for online retailers. Infoworld, 20, 11 May, p. 77. Weiner, A. (1989) Women of Value, Men of Renown. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, USA. West, M. (2007) Caught in the net: online tipster gives the blue chips a shock. The Australian, 10 February, pp. 33, 38. Wheen, F. (2000) Karl Marx. 4th Estate Publishers, London, UK. Wood, A.F. & Smith, M.J. (2001) Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and Culture. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, USA.

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year