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What is the metaverse and who seeks to define it? Mapping the site of social construction


Dolata, Mateusz; Schwabe, Gerhard (2023). What is the metaverse and who seeks to define it? Mapping the site of social construction. Journal of Information Technology, 38(3):239-266.

Abstract

The Metaverse has become a buzz-phrase among tech businesses. Facebook's rebranding to Meta is symptomatic of this. Many firms and other actors are trying to shape visions of the Metaverse, leading to confusion about the term's meaning. We use social construction of technology (SCOT) theory to disentangle the conflicting notions proposing that what the Metaverse is and will become relies on the collective sensemaking processes. We point out similarities and differences between various concepts presented in the public media and link them to individual actors' monetary, political, or social motives. We describe the tensions that occur because of the conflicting interests. As the Metaverse is an emerging phenomenon, opportunities exist to reorient it toward humanist values rather than singular interests. However, the complexity of the social processes that shape the Metaverse requires a considerate approach rather than premature conclusions about the Metaverse’s characteristics. The analysis presents the Metaverse as a new, continually evolving sociotechnical phenomenon, and calls for research that explores it as a dynamic, moving target.

Abstract

The Metaverse has become a buzz-phrase among tech businesses. Facebook's rebranding to Meta is symptomatic of this. Many firms and other actors are trying to shape visions of the Metaverse, leading to confusion about the term's meaning. We use social construction of technology (SCOT) theory to disentangle the conflicting notions proposing that what the Metaverse is and will become relies on the collective sensemaking processes. We point out similarities and differences between various concepts presented in the public media and link them to individual actors' monetary, political, or social motives. We describe the tensions that occur because of the conflicting interests. As the Metaverse is an emerging phenomenon, opportunities exist to reorient it toward humanist values rather than singular interests. However, the complexity of the social processes that shape the Metaverse requires a considerate approach rather than premature conclusions about the Metaverse’s characteristics. The analysis presents the Metaverse as a new, continually evolving sociotechnical phenomenon, and calls for research that explores it as a dynamic, moving target.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Uncontrolled Keywords:social construction of technology, virtual worlds, metaverse, relevant social groups, interpretative flexibility, public discourse
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:1 September 2023
Deposited On:27 Feb 2023 15:21
Last Modified:29 May 2024 01:49
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0268-3962
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/02683962231159927
Official URL:https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/02683962231159927
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:23324
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English