community

The concept of community concerns a particularly constituted set of social relationships based on something which the participants have in common-usually a common sense of identity. It is, to paraphrase Talcott Parsons, frequently used to denote a wide-ranging relationship of solidarity over a rather undefined area of life and interests. According to Robert Nisbet (The Sociological Tradition, 1966), it was the most fundamental and far-reaching of the core ideas incorporated in the discipline's foundations, principally because concern with loss of community was central to nineteenth-century sociology. The sociological content of community has, however, remained a matter for endless dispute.
These disputes flow from what Nisbet describes as the rediscovered symbolism of community in nineteenth-century thought, which identified this form of social association with the Good Society, and with all forms of relationship which are characterized by a high degree of personal intimacy, emotional depth, moral commitment, social cohesion, and continuity in time. It was feared that these were precisely the features which were disappearing in the transition from a rural-based to an urban-industrial society. This alleged loss of community was central to the work of Ferdinand Tönnies , who has been described as the founder of the theory of community. In the book Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (‘Community and Society’) Tönnies presented ideal-typical pictures of these forms of social association, contrasting the solidaristic nature of social relations in the former, with the large-scale and impersonal relations thought to characterize industrializing societies.
One difficulty for the sociology of community ensuing from these intellectual origins is that it has frequently been used to identify and at the same time endorse a particular form of social association. A second is that there is no clear and widely accepted definition of just what characteristic features of social interaction constitute the solidaristic relations typical of so-called communities. These value-laden but imprecise circumstances go a long way to explaining a third difficulty-the empirical identification of communities. The term has been used in the sociological literature to refer directly to types of population settlements (such as villages or physically bounded urban neighbourhoods); to supposedly ideal-typical ways of life in such places; and to social networks whose members share some common characteristic apart from or in addition to a common location (such as ethnicity or occupation). Frequently the term is used in ways which contain all these elements-as, for example, in ‘traditional inner-city working-class communities’. At one time the problems of defining the concept of community provided the basis for a thriving sociological industry. In a classic contribution to this debate, George A. Hillery analysed no fewer than ninety-four definitions of the concept, although his conclusions were hardly enlightening since he was able only to extract from these a classification which distinguished sixteen different and characteristic elements. These included geographical area, self-sufficiency, kinship, consciousness of kind, common life-styles, and various intensive types of social interaction. Somewhat despairingly, perhaps, Hillery concluded from his review that ‘There is one element, however, which can be found in all of the concepts … all of the definitions deal with people. Beyond this common basis, there is no agreement’ (‘Definitions of Community: Areas of Agreement’, Rural Sociology, 1955). See also anti-urbanism ; community power ; community studies.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • community — com‧mu‧ni‧ty [kəˈmjuːnti] noun communities PLURALFORM [countable] 1. all the people who live in the same area, city etc: • The new arts centre will serve the whole community. 2. a group of people who all share the same nationality, religion, or… …   Financial and business terms

  • community — com·mu·ni·ty n pl ties 1: the people who live in a particular place or region and usu. are linked by some common interests 2 a: the mass of community property owned by a husband and wife a spouse may not...lease to a third person his undivided… …   Law dictionary

  • Community — Título Community Género Comedia Creado por Dan Harmon Reparto Joel McHale Gillian Jacobs Danny Pudi Yvette Nicole Brown Alison Brie Donald Glover Ken Jeong Chevy Chase …   Wikipedia Español

  • Community — Titre original Community Genre Sitcom Créateur(s) Dan Harmon Pays d’origine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Community — Com*mu ni*ty, n.; pl. {Communities}. [L. communitas: cf. OF. communit[ e]. Cf. {Commonalty}, and see {Common}.] 1. Common possession or enjoyment; participation; as, a community of goods. [1913 Webster] The original community of all things. Locke …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • community — late 14c., from O.Fr. comunité community, commonness, everybody (Mod.Fr. communauté), from L. communitatem (nom. communitas) community, fellowship, from communis common, public, general, shared by all or many, (see COMMON (Cf. common)). Latin… …   Etymology dictionary

  • community — in the sense ‘a place considered together with its inhabitants’ has given rise to attributive uses such as community police officer, community care (long term care for the ill and elderly), community service (unpaid work to be done by offenders… …   Modern English usage

  • community — [kə myo͞o′nə tē] n. pl. communities [ME & OFr communite < L communitas, community, fellowship < communis,COMMON] 1. a) all the people living in a particular district, city, etc. b) the district, city, etc. where they live 2. a group of… …   English World dictionary

  • community — ► NOUN (pl. communities) 1) a group of people living together in one place. 2) (the community) the people of an area or country considered collectively; society. 3) a group of people with a common religion, race, or profession: the scientific… …   English terms dictionary

  • community — [n1] society, area of people association, body politic, center, colony, commonality, commonwealth, company, district, general public, hamlet, locality, nation, neck of the woods*, neighborhood, people, populace, public, residents, society, state …   New thesaurus

  • Community No. 9 — is an album released by Indie rock musician Ike Reilly in 1992. It is now considered very rare. Track listing The Struggle 2:05 Way Down 2:51 Peaceful 3:27 Real Tears 2:41 President of the World 3:55 Corruptible 4:37 No Movement 4:04 (Our) Love… …   Wikipedia

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