Virtual Community and its related issues have always been one of the main concerns of the new world. The increasing tendency to the virtual space in Iran has led to a new kind of daily interactions and because of that, a different society comparing to the pre-Internet era has been made. The “Virtual Community Studies” department attempts to take a scientific approach to this space for better understanding of different cultural- social dimensions that are caused by the emergence of virtual community. That is a considerable step towards the targets of Institute of Social Studies and Researches (ISSR) for studying and surveying of the current issues of the society.

The online space has created a new opportunity for technological development. After that and after the emergence of social networks, an opportunity was provided for the virtual space users; they could use their phones or personal computers to be online with others at the same time. By creating new avatar identities they could communicate to others and by exchanging information they create a virtual community where they make their second life by a new capital beyond the limitations of real life.

The active presence in this space contains some levels of real life such as connecting, commenting, empathy with friends, sending and receiving different kind of information, and reaction to controversial news. In this respect and due to the network properties of virtual media such as Facebook, Twitter or Telegram; we could define the appearance of one kind of group life named as virtual community that is like a second life. The virtual community involves a kind of second life in an international measurement that is compressed in time and space. That’s why virtual community is considered as a feature of modernism that urges a review of geographic coordinates about the understanding of society concept.

The new communication media provide a new possibility that people could leave the limitations behind. Social networks make it possible that users hide their real identities.  Virtual identity could have overlaps with real identity of a user. This new identity is mostly created for representation of specific features of real identity or reconstruction of an idealistic ego. Avatar identity of people in a virtual community could be a preface for the reconstruction of a new capital in cultural, economic, social, and symbolic dimensions that create a new kind of individual capital for modern human.

The “Virtual Communities Studies” department with the cooperation of Iranian and international scholars of social sciences analyses different aspects of virtual community and its negative issues by the explanation of the philosophical- social fundamental concepts of virtual community and the emergence process  of communicating websites and applications. Our main headlines in this section have been developed in four research groups including philosophy, sociology, psychology, and economy. This group is passionately looking forward to ideas, articles and scientific cooperation of cultural and economic activists in cyberspace also those who are interested in cyberspace studies. We hope that the establishment of this new group considerably improves the understanding of Iranian virtual community.

Head of Department: Dr.Younes Nourbakhsh, Associate professor of sociology department, University of Tehran. ynourbakhsh@ut.ac.ir

Secretary of Department: Abbas Faghih Khorasani, Senior researcher of the institute, University of Tehran. abbas.faghih@ut.ac.ir