Alma Mater
ISSN 1026-955X
Vestnik Vysshey Shkoly (Higher School Herald)
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Virtual Communities as New Actors of Social Reality

N.S. Zimova, E.V. Fomin, E.D. Polyantseva

UDC 314/316-042.4:004                               


Natalya S. Zimova, PhD, Docent, School of Contemporary Social Sciences at Lomonosov Moscow State University, e-mail:

Egor V. Fomin, Senior Teacher, School of Contemporary Social Sciences at Lomonosov Moscow State University, e-mail:

Elizaveta D. Polyantseva, graduate student, School of Contemporary Social Sciences at Lomonosov Moscow State University, e-mail:


The article is devoted to the analysis of the phenomenon of virtual communities that arise in social networks, today more and more often go beyond their boundaries, having a significant impact on social reality. Based on the classical sociological theories of small groups by Ch. Cooley and F. Tennis, as well as new approaches to the study of network communities by G. Reingold, N. Baym, B. Wellman, the authors explicate the very concept of a virtual community, reveal a relationship with real communities, and propose a typology modern virtual communities. Depending on the degree of influence on social reality, the authors propose to single out explicit-real (latent-virtual); exclusively virtual; explicit-virtual (latent-real) virtual communities. Using the case method, the article discusses examples of the activities of virtual communities of the third type: the community of the financial network r/wallstreetbets on the Reddit platform and the community of the founder of the “Men’s State” V. Pozdnyakov§ in Telegram. Specific examples demonstrate the mechanisms of influencing social reality through such tools as speeches, flash mobs, spam attacks, and Internet promotions. As a result, the authors note the need for a multidimensional analysis of virtual communities by government agencies, business representatives, research centers in order to study them and develop mechanisms for an adequate response to possible challenges.

Key words: virtual communities, network communities, public life, social networks, users, network performances, network flash mobs.



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