Sociability Online

This paper examines the capacity of forms of online sociability to serve as alternatives to more traditional forms of social interaction with respect to building trust, exchanging information and creating knowledge. The Web facilitates access to other subcultures and liberates from constraining social environments. Individuals can seek out like-minded persons and groups online and achieve acceptance that helps them withstand social censure and develop parts of their identity that otherwise might have crumbled under social disapproval (e.g. McKenna&Bargh 1998). The paper provides an overview over different forms of online sociability and examines their impact on the formation of social groups, interaction patterns and effects on sociability and trust through a comparative analysis with previous forms of sociability as theorized in 18-20th century liberal democratic theory.