Article Information


Stanislav Moiseev a (E-mail:

Inna Deviatko a,b

a National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation

b Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS

Citation: Moiseev S., Deviatko I. (2018) Virusnyy al'truizm ili sotsial'noye zarazheniye? Sravnitel'nyy analiz tipov uchastiya i mekhanizmov vovlecheniya rossiyskikh i ukrainskikh pol'zovateley sotsial'nykh media v blagotvoritel'nuyu kampaniyu Ice Bucket Challenge [Viral altruism or social contagion? Comparative analysis of types of participation and mechanisms of involving Russian and Ukrainian users of social media in the charitable campaign Ice Bucket Challenge]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(4): 154–181 (in Russian).

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Abstract. This article is devoted to the study of the viral altruism as a form of prosocial mass activity in social networks. It reveals the diverse nature of this phenomenon, which is driven by the distinct mechanisms of intrinsic altruistic motivation of prosocial action, extrinsic rational motivation, or by social contagion which does not necessarily presuppose an altruistic orientation of social action. Basing on this typology of the mechanisms forms of participation of Russian and Ukrainian Vkontakte users in the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) charity campaign are compared using information about «digital footprints». Various examples of participation are summarized in the form of an analytical typology which reflects the predominant influence of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, or of social contagion processes. The validity of the typology is confirmed by the results of cluster analysis of empirical data. In the discussion of the results, it is emphasized that the «formal» participation of users in the cascade of social contagion could be more correctly defined as an example of mass behavior in the digital environment, rather than the manifestation of viral altruism per se. In addition, this article demonstrates that in the process of analysis of charitable campaign participants’ activities it is necessary to investigate the real directedness of users actions, as well as the socio-political context that can influence on it, rather than only rely on the interpretation, based on the formal rules of the campaign. It is shown that carrying out such an in-depth analysis helps to distinguish users with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation more adequately.

Keywords: viral altruism, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, social contagion, Ice Bucket Challenge, mass behavior.



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