15BUILDING IDENTITIES AS EXPERT IN AN ONLINE FORUM*

15.1 INTRODUCTION

The analysis again focuses on positioning and identity work, this time making a more technical and granular investigation of how forum contributors, in this instance, position themselves as knowledgeable experts with entitlement to be heard. That is, the investigation concerns how participants construct positions as expert whose voluntarily shared knowledge is worth having, thus orienting to what David Silverman refers to as category entitlements. This is shown to be a delicate, intricate, and even problematic action in the context of discussion forums (see Chapter 6 for a discussion of discourse analysis and computer-mediated communications). So, whereas the meeting analysis in the previous chapters takes a more holistic, interactionalist approach (because it is a live interaction), forum data affords the opportunity to study what might be called “the nuts and bolts” of positioning and knowledge sharing from the perspective of discursive psychology.

15.2 DATA

In November 2010, a member of a LinkedIn “Knowledge Managers” discussion forum posed some “basic questions” around KM. LinkedIn is an online social networking service for professionals, facilitating virtual networks of contacts (“connections”) and special interest discussion forums. Over a seven-day period, 14 individuals (all male) made contributions to the forum: one contributor was subsequently excluded from the analysis because of confusing irregularities ...

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