Identifying strong ties/relationships within a social virtual environment

Janet Ward, Johanna Gummerus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Granovetter’s theory (1973; 1983) about weak versus strong ties in networks has been influential within relationship marketing research. More recently it has been applied to online environments where a number of authors (Ellison et al. 2007; Kavanaugh et al. 2005) have recorded a preponderance of weak ties in social networks such as Facebook & Twitter. For virtual world environments such as Second Life, Kaplan & Haenlein (2010) likewise predicted weak ties in a model of communications. Typically in these environments, the user takes the form of an avatar (a graphical representation) within the virtual world to interact and communicate within the virtual world. Our research focuses on a young people’s virtual world that first opened in 2000 and is one of the longest running young people’s virtual worlds. Although there are a substantial number of children’s/ young people’s virtual worlds, research has been quite limited to date within these. Most has seemed to focus on children’s developmental issues (Greenfield and Yan, 2006) while some have identifies bullying and use of pornography ( ). Overall, it has been suggested that children ‘grow out’ of different virtual worlds and move on to the next age group over time ( ). However, based on extended participant observation and in-world discussion groups our research finds a group that have not moved on and have stayed within the same virtual world. Our paper discusses how this fits within the Granovetter model and the extant research on online relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Colloquium on Relationship Marketing (ICRM), 2015, Helsinki,
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2015
Event23rd International Colloquium on Relationship Marketing: Relationship Marketing: Back to the Roots and into the Future. - Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 15 Sept 201517 Sept 2015


Conference23rd International Colloquium on Relationship Marketing
Abbreviated titleICRM


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