Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Paul S. Voakes

Second Advisor

Elizabeth A. Skewes

Third Advisor

Mike McDevitt


This study investigates the role that communitarian and care ethics play in online user-generated content. As humans move through an ever growing "information age," people’s ethical awareness and understanding of new media has come into question. New media includes on-demand audio and video, social networking sites, and mobile device technologies. The rate at which new media is being developed and the accelerating pace at which people implement it have left many ethical considerations unanswered.

The community-based website EdHat Santa Barbara was as the data source for this study. Messages were analyzed using communitarian and care ethics criteria because of their focus on human relationships and social connections. While the return to a sense of community is hoped for in the wake of generations that drew on a desire for individualism and the "autonomous self," understanding the role that communitarian and care ethics has in contributing to community becomes increasingly important.

Through a content analysis of members’ posts and comments on the website EdHat, this study investigates the strengths and weaknesses an online community exhibits in creating the types of bonds needed for community building.