The territorial dimension, as conceptualized by sociologist Joseph Gusfield, pertains to the emotional and social connection individuals establish with a particular geographic space within a community. It involves a sense of ownership, belonging, and identity tied to the physical environment. The territorial dimension influences individuals' behaviors, attitudes, and interactions within the community, as they develop a sense of attachment and investment towards their local area.
In the context of an online community, the territorial dimension takes on a metaphorical meaning. While there is no physical geography, individuals can still develop a sense of virtual territory within the online space. This can manifest in various ways, such as individuals feeling ownership or loyalty towards specific sub-forums or discussion threads, or identifying strongly with certain online groups or communities. The territorial dimension in an online community influences individuals' engagement, interaction patterns, and commitment, as they form attachments and develop a sense of belonging within the virtual space. Fostering a sense of virtual territory can contribute to the formation of a cohesive online community where members feel invested and connected.