Virtual communities constitute an online environment that offers not only a new form of communication through which community members share information and interact with each other, but also an arena in which members develop social relationships. Prior research on the conceptualization of social presence, the degree to which a person is perceived as real in a mediated communication, results in two lines of perspectives. The media richness view conceives social presence as a media attribute while the relational view considers social presence as a quality of relational systems, emphasizing the relational aspects of communication. Drawing upon the relational view of social presence, this research incorporates the commitment-trust theory to investigate the influence of social presence on virtual community members’ continual participation. Moreover, this research considers sense of virtual community (SOVC) as the mediator between social presence and virtual community participation. The contributions of this research are three-fold. First, this research contributes to social presence literature by focusing on the social relational aspects of communication that are dependent on the participants rather than on the medium. Second, this research examines the role and importance of social presence in SOVC and virtual community participation. Lastly, it helps clarify how social presence contributes to continual participation in virtual communities.


Virtual community, social presence, commitment-trust theory, sense of virtual community, continual participation


ISBN: [978-1-86435-644-1]; Research-in-progress paper