Anti-social e-tribes: e-gangs, cybercultures and control in online communities

Robert Rogerson, Sue Sadler, Eleni Karagiannidou, Sallyanne Duncan, Ian Ruthven, Stephen Tagg, Alisdair McDiarmid

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Online ‘tribes’ offer opportunities for individuals to communicate interests and
opportunities through networks with potential for exponential growth. Such tribal
behaviour can be a powerful means of bringing people together, promoting and
cementing cultural relationships - with great potential to alter existing power
relations. But what happens when that behaviour is not so positive, when ‘tribes’
are perceived as ‘gangs,’ with the negative associations of menace and anti-social behaviour, and how should we respond to that? And what happens if and when such behaviour percolates from online groups into other offline contexts? The growth of online challenges to offline laws and social norms, including challenges to rights of privacy or freedom of speech, raise questions about whether online behaviour should be subject to greater control. The recent UK conviction and appeal judgement on two young men for using social network, Facebook, to encourage rioting, burglary and criminal damage raises some interesting questions about both how integrated online and offline social networks might be - to what extent do online behaviours actually transfer to offline behaviours? Responses to managing gang related and anti-social behaviour in our cities have been criticised in particular for unnecessarily criminalising behaviours and for restricting individual freedom. Looking at responses through the lens of anti-social behaviour, this chapter identifies three possible approaches to influencing online behaviour, focusing on what might be achieved by community members themselves, by external control, or through design and management of the online environment. It explores the capacity of these different stakeholders to address anti-social behaviour online and to harness the positive potential of e-tribes while avoiding the pitfalls of offline precedents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCyberculture Now
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Communication Behaviours on the Web
EditorsAnna Maj
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Event7th Global Conference on Cybercultures - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 3 May 20125 May 2012

Publication series

NameCritical Issues


Conference7th Global Conference on Cybercultures
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


  • tribal behaviour
  • Internet
  • online environments
  • anti-social behaviour
  • social networks


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