Performing embodied identity in virtual worlds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Embodied identity, that is, who we are as a result of our interactions with the world around us with and through our bodies, is increasingly challenged in online environments where identity performances are seemingly untethered from the user's body that is sitting at the computer. Even though disembodiment has been severely criticized in the literature, most conceptualizations of the role of users' bodies in virtuality nevertheless reflect a representational logic, which fails to capture contemporary users' experience of cyborgism. Relying on data collected from nine entrepreneurs in the virtual world Second Life (SL), this paper asks how embodied identity is performed in virtual worlds. Contrasting representationalism with performativity, this study highlights that the SL entrepreneurs intentionally re-presented in their avatars some of the attributes of physical bodies, but that they also engaged in habitual practices in-world, thereby unconsciously enacting embodied identities in both their 'real' and virtual lives.


  • Ulrike Schultze
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Information Systems, Social aspects


  • identity, virtual worlds, avatars
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-95
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch