Do avatars dream of electronic picket lines? The blurring of work and play in virtual environments

Bridget Blodgett, Andrea Tapia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to define and articulate the concept of digital protestainment, to address how technologies have enabled boundaries to become more permeable, and in which this permeability leads to the engendering of new cultures. Design/methodology/approach: Two case studies, within Second Life and EVE Online, are examined to see how digital protestainment, through the lens of cultural borderlands, creates a hybridized culture. Recorded interviews and textual analysis of web sites are used to illustrate the concepts of play, work, and blended activities. Findings: Within virtual environments the process of hybridization is not only increased in size, scope, form, and function. The borderlands process draws in cultural elements through a complex interchange between the online and the offline, in which hybridized cultural bits are carried out into other spaces. Research limitations/implications: The success of the cases does not represent all digital protest examples and so this study is limited in its ability to generalize to the population of virtual protests. This study limits the realm of digital protestainment to virtual worlds but the concept could be applied to any form of virtual community. Practical implications: Companies that host these worlds will need to become aware not only of what their audience is but also how that audience will mobilize and the likely outcomes of their mobilization. Virtual worlds offer organizational leaders a new resource for training, support, and recruitment. Originality/value: The theoretical concept of cultural borderlands is expanded to the digital environment and introduced as a potentially new and useful tool to internet researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-45
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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