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New Iowa School Redux: Second Life as Laboratory

Symbolic Interaction and New Social Media

ISBN: 978-1-78350-933-1, eISBN: 978-1-78350-932-4

ISSN: 0163-2396

Publication date: 11 August 2014


This paper provides a general comparison between the ethos, methodological mission, and theoretical standpoint of the New Iowa School, established by Carl Couch and his students and Second Life, a three dimensional virtual world that invites particular forms of sociation. Despite differences in orientation and purpose, as well as biases in communication, we propose that the methodological and conceptual emphasis underlying the research generated from New Iowa School experimental studies can provide a useful framework for research into the virtual worlds created in Second Life. In the course of citing similarities and differences between the New Iowa School and Second Life, we also note that contrived worlds in laboratories and virtual worlds in user domains not only have relevant analogical processes to outside, in situ social worlds, but consist of social stages for performances that have application to the various social stages constructed by actors in the real world. In conclusion, we suggest that the New Iowa School and Second Life represent different but compatible realities in their own right, that the conceptual depth associated with the New Iowa School can inform research into Second Life interactions, and that each offer insights into the external worlds inhabited by real actors who navigate across time and space in their everyday lives.



Katovich, M.A. and Chen, S.-L.S. (2014), "New Iowa School Redux: Second Life as Laboratory", Symbolic Interaction and New Social Media (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 43), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 63-84.



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