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Construction of "Nature" in the Virtual World Second Life

Title: The Construction of "Nature" in the Virtual World Second Life.
Name(s): Clark, Joseph, author
Opel, Andrew, professor directing dissertation
Landing, William, university representative
Sypher, Ulla, committee member
Houck, Davis, committee member
School of Communication, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The natural systems that humans value and upon which we depend are under pressure. Yet too often humans appear trapped in denial, continuing to engage in harmful and unsustainable practices. Capitalism's necessary components of commodification and continual growth are primary drivers of both environmental degradation and our ability to blind ourselves to it or depict it as an inevitable "price of progress." This opens our economic system and the ideologies of consumption and commodification that underlie it to critical challenge. The mechanism by which this system reproduces itself is an obvious focus of critics, who have pointed out that capitalism uses our informational and entertainment media as a "culture industry" (Jhally, 1989) to reproduce itself, thereby shaping our thinking and constraining our choices. Yet, as Jenkins and others have shown, this is not a one-way, hypodermic model of influence. The multiuser virtual world Second Life represents the emergence of a somewhat new medium that is groundbreaking in its presentation of an immersively convincing world that visitors can inhabit and even co-create. SL tends to reproduce the ideologies of its builders and users, and its convincing nature creates a powerful presumption of reality and truth; it tends to be experienced as something as natural and inevitable as the real world. Because it is largely user-created, however, it is a place where ideologically-founded depictions of the natural world can be deconstructed regularly and habitually in the act of consuming them. It also offers a relatively democratized public sphere in which competing visions of reality can be experienced. I begin with a review of critical theory about the role of media in the formation and reproduction of ideologies about the natural world. Following an explanation of Remediation Theory--which provides insight into the way something as clearly artificial as a virtual world can be enthusiastically engaged as real--I also discuss the rhetorical power of images, followed by a discussion of "virtual nature" as it has been presented in various forms up to and including Second Life. I conclude a detailed study that entails both close readings of SL "builds" as well as interviews with its users and an examination of the way descriptions of these virtual constructions circulate out in other media.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-8957 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the School of Communication in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2014.
Date of Defense: May 1, 2014.
Keywords: Environment, Mediation, Nature, Virtual Worlds, Visual Rhetoric
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Andrew Opel, Professor Directing Dissertation; William Landing, University Representative; Ulla Sypher, Committee Member; Davis Houck, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Communication
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Clark, J. (2014). The Construction of "Nature" in the Virtual World Second Life. Retrieved from