Document Type

Book Chapter




information and library science


Library and Information Science | Organizational Communication | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Science and Technology Studies | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture


Virtual interactions are normally assumed to be separate and distinct from the “real world,” yet they are also situated within material reality. In this paper I propose that a situated approach to understanding virtuality can be developed through drawing from Goffman’s Frame Analysis (1974/1986). I explain how Goffman’s terminology and concepts afford a way of integrating the study of virtual interaction with the study of social interaction more generally. His frame analysis approach offers constructs useful for distinguishing virtual worlds from each other and from real worlds in a way that is consonant with perspectives on human-computer interaction. His language can help to account for the phenomenon of immersion in virtual worlds; and it is well suited for understanding co-present and mediated social interaction at the same time. I conclude by discussing some limitations of this approach and suggesting directions for further research.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.