Interaction ritual threads does IRC theory apply online?

Paul Dimaggio, Clark Bernier, Charles Heckscher, David Mimno

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Since the publication of Collins’s Interaction Ritual Chains, much interaction has moved from face-to-face to online settings. Interaction Ritual Chain (IRC) theory was based on the former, and Collins has expressed a combination of skepticism and ambivalence as to the theory’s applicability to online interaction. This chapter draws on Bakhtin’s theory of speech genres to adapt key concepts from IRC theory to the online world. Using more than 40,000 postings from two time-delimited Intranet discussions at a global corporation, we find that IRC theory is effective in predicting which posts contribute to robust conversations by eliciting responses. As in face-to-face interaction rituals, shared topical focus contributes to success, and interactions are characterized by temporal rhythms similar to, but longer than, those in face-to-face talk. We conclude that, under the right conditions, online interaction can produce emotional energy and that IRC theory is a valuable resource in understanding communication online.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationRitual, Emotion, Violence
    Subtitle of host publicationStudies on the Micro-Sociology of Randall Collins
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages44
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429874789
    ISBN (Print)9781138614277
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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