Symbolic and Experiential Consumption of Body in Virtual Worlds: from (Dis)Embodiment to Symembodiment

Handan Vicdan, Ebru Ulusoy

Abstract


This study examines the symbolic meanings of the body concept in a virtual world called Second Life (SL). Using audio-visual approach to netnography, we investigate the ways in which consumers are involved in SL, the meanings attached to their avatars, the process of (re)constructing their avatars, and the experiences lived through their avatars. In light of our findings, we draw attention to the conceptualization of body as experience, which brings the enhancement in the perception of body as a means of self-presentation to experiencing the body for the sake of the body. Furthermore, we introduce the concept of symembodiment as a means of articulating the presence of body in SL and reemphasizing the non-resolvable embodiment/disembodiment paradox of the body in the virtual world.

Keywords


avatar; body; Second Life; virtual worlds; netnography; audio-visual research

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org