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Institutional Similarity Drives Cultural Similarity among Online Communities

by   Qiankun Zhong, et al.

Understanding online communities requires an appreciation of both structure and culture. But basic questions remain difficult to pose. How do these facets interact and drive each other? Using data on the membership and governance styles of 5,000 small-scale online communities, we construct empirical measures for cross-server similarities in institutional structure and culture to explore the influence of institutional environment on their culture, and the influence of culture on their institutional environment. To establish the influence of culture and institutions on each other, we construct networks of communities, linking those that are more similar either in their members or governance. We then use network analysis to assess the causal relationships between shared culture and institutions. Our result shows that while effects in both directions are evident, there is a much stronger role for institutions on culture than culture on institutions. These processes are evident within administrative and informational type rules.


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