Conflict and identity shape shifting in an online financial community

John Campbell, Gordon Fletcher, Anita Greenhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 aintaining 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. © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-478
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Character theory
  • Conflict
  • Finance
  • Identity shape shifting
  • Online communities


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