Power dichotomies : an exploratory comparison between online and offline spaces.
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMasters of Commerce
A grounded theory analysis was carried out with participants aged 18-25 from around New Zealand, particularly within the Christchurch vicinity, to develop an understanding of the behavioural responses by individuals when they are anonymously communicating online. It was found that detachment from an individual’s identity occurred, creating an impersonal and distant interaction free from the normal social constraints of the offline, real life environment. The study found that technological dehumanisation was evident, which proposes that individuals relinquish linkages to their persona as a means to subconsciously justify behaviours, which are contrary to the norms of society. Repercussions of this dehumanised interaction include reduced external power to manipulate and influence, and emphasises the importance of an individual’s internal power, such as self-efficacy, to control one’s persona such as likeability and expertise as a means to feel personal empowerment. This study helps further the understanding between anonymous behaviours and behavioural power dynamics by identifying a new dimension to the behavioural discrepancies seen online. It also creates a foundation for future works to develop further understanding of both the positive and negative repercussions of anonymous online behaviours, both in a social context and in the workplace.