Social control in online communities of consumption: a framework for community management

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Sibai, Olivier ; de Valck, K. ; Farrell, A.M. ; Rudd, J.M. (2015)

Online communities of consumption (OCCs) represent highly diverse groups of consumers whose interests are not always aligned. Social control in OCCs aims to effectively manage problems arising from this heterogeneity. Extant literature on social control in OCCs is fragmented as some studies focus on the principles of social control, while others focus on the implementation. Moreover, the domain is undertheorized. This article integrates the disparate literature on social control in OCCs providing a first unified conceptualization of the topic. The authors conceptualize social control as a system, or configuration, of moderation practices. Moderation practices are executed during interactions operating under different governance structures (market, hierarchy, and clan) and serving different purposes (interaction initiation, maintenance, and termination). From this conceptualization, important areas of future research emerge and research questions are developed. The framework also serves as a community management tool for OCC managers, enabling the diagnosis of social control problems and the elaboration of strategies and tactics to address them.
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