Communications of the IIMA


This paper presents an application of the Critical Social Theory (GST) in understanding cyberspace behavior. CST can be used as one of qualitative methodologies in IS research. However most prior IS research utilized a very narrowly drawn insight from CST without historical and social context considered. This study tries to apply a general concept of CST for the purpose of providing plausible explanation for cyberspace behavior. CST identifies unjust conditions and tries to find the cause through critical reflection, which eventually might lead to emancipation of people. In this paper, a cyberspace behavior case of a relatively developed country where the Confucius tradition dictating people's physical world behavior is defied in cyberspace is investigated. The case deals with compulsive buying behavior of avatars by the teenagers of the country. Empirical data were also collected and the result shows that teenagers were under immense pressure to excel in academics and inclined to immerse themselves into virtual world of avatars in order to relieve stress. This phenomenon indicates that in the unjust condition of the society, members who have no realistic power to fight back might resort to illusionary emancipation in cyberspace. This paper shows that a general CST can be adopted for an IS research method tackling topics relevant to cyberspace behavior. This should be regarded as a meaningful expansion of application areas of CST in IS research.