Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

David Roh

Committee Director

Kevin Moberly

Committee Member

Dana Heller

Committee Member

Avi Santo


Studies of online communities often focus either on communities that produce texts or the texts with which individuals engage. This dissertation examines online communities that practice in ongoing activities, in their leisure time, often with no end goal of producing any final text. Through interviews, surveys, and community forum analysis of running, gaming, and translation communities, this study finds that place and everyday habits factor heavily into the ways that sustained online communities structure their work. “Place” can have several meanings within this context, including the communities valuing specific locations or working with specific individuals because of where they live. Due to the rise in use of pervasive mobile devices, online community access often weaves into members’ offline lives. This knowledge of life ancillary to online community adds a layer of affective work to online community participation.

Throughout the data collected from these communities, stories pertaining to the work of community maintenance dominated the conversation. Participants defined “work” as managing community involvement around other obligations, maintaining relationships across distances, and acknowledging the benefits that corporate entities derive from these communities. By investigating work within this context, we expand our understanding of the ways less visible populations work online in their leisure time.


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