Culture, disorder, and death in an online world

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Cross-Cultural Interaction: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications, 2014, 2 pp. 1010 - 1026
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© 2014 by IGI Global. All rights reserved. Death strikes everywhere, even online. Death poses problems personally, existentially, and culturally, and is potentially destructive to person and group. Yet many social theories of death posit some kind of social integration as normal, downplaying the potential for disorder. This chapter explores how people on the internet mailing list, Cybermind, dealt with death on two occasions: firstly, just after the group's founding, and secondly, when the group had been established for eight years, and was in crisis. On both occasions the group was rocked by the deaths, and struggled to make a meaningful and ongoing mailing list culture out of parts of offline culture, while transforming that culture within the constraints and ambiguities of List Life. This was a disorderly exploratory process, which verged on disintegration. Social disorder cannot be seen as simply pathological or an error; it is a vital part of cultural processes and must be taken seriously in itself.
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