• Toward the future: A conceptual review and call for research and action with online communities

      Steltenpohl, Crystal N.
      The internet allows people to connect with virtually anyone across the globe, building communities based on shared interests, experiences, and goals. Despite the potential for furthering our understanding of communities more generally through exploring them in online contexts, online communities have not generally been a focus of community psychologists. A conceptual, state-of-the-art review of eight major community psychology journals revealed 23 descriptive or empirical articles concerning online communities have been published in the past 20 years. These articles are primarily descriptive and can be organized into four categories: community building and maintenance (seven articles, 30.43%), community support (six articles, 26.09%), norms and attitudes (six articles, 26.09%), and advocacy (four articles, 17.39%). These articles reflect a promising start to understanding how we can utilize the internet to build and enhance communities. They also indicate how much further we have to go, both in understanding online communities and certain concepts regarding community psychology more generally. Community psychologists involved in practice and applied settings specifically may benefit from understanding online communities as they become integral components of advocacy, community organizing, and everyday life.