Explore the Ways in Which We Can Understand the Concept of Community

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Name: Emma Burwell
Module: Community Studies
Word Count: 2049
‘Explore the ways in which we can understand the concept of ‘community’. By Emma Burwell.

The purpose of this essay is to explore the ways in which we can understand the concept of ‘community’. In doing so the essay will aim to introduce community with its many definitions and articulate a discussion around its ambiguous hidden meanings. The essay will explore theoretical perspectives such as Durkheim and Tonnies, to help elaborate on the many connotations attached to the concept of community. In doing so the essay will highlight qualitative evidence with regards to both the positive and negative aspects attached to the term community. The essay will aim to critically evaluate different ideas to the changing nature of community, considering elements such as Industrialisation, Globalisation and Immigration. Points of discussion will include relevant ideas of the ways in which community can or can not be defined, traditional ideology of the community, the changing nature of community and community in Modern British Society. The overall aim of the essay will be to demonstrate effectively an understanding of the concepts of community.

The term community in Modern British Society is still a very complex concept to define; it could be argued that community has not one simple definition whereby ‘a single set of generally applicable criteria’ (Mooney & Neal, 2009, p.3) gives the term one whole meaning, but rather a notion of collective yet very different meanings making the whole concept itself indefinable. It could be argued that community can be linked to many different aspects such as location, identity and institutions, each of which overlapping in one form or another in Modern British Society, yet each holding certain elements by which people relate to and share a common belief or a common form of bonding. As Bauman aluminates the idea through metaphoric attachments, he describes community as being, ‘like a fireplace at which we warm our hands on a frosty day’ (Bauman, cited in Mooney & Neal, 2009, p.2). It could be argued that Bauman is referring to the warm and caring nature of a community, each looking out for each other and taking care of each other, his ideals seem heavily influenced by the whole sentimental attachment of traditional community which disguises any negative connotations. Through research provided in the field by Willmott and Young the notion of community is that likened to ‘place communities’, in which groups of people tied by family, kinship and long standing residency provided the basis of the concept of homogeneous community. Willmott and Young (1957) concluded ‘The interaction between length of residence and kinship is therefore the crux of our interpretation. Neither by itself is a sufficient explanation’ (p.115). It could be suggested that both Willmott and Young’s qualitative evidence also relied heavily on the traditional view of the concept of community.

It could be argued that the ‘Romanticised Ideology’ of traditional community was one of kinship and friendship, whereby people engaged in community life and embraced the ties of common residency, shared common beliefs and interest. It could be suggested that due to the latter, people where able to feel a sense of belonging which in turn creates strong solidarity within the community itself. Industrialisation caused major change within society and some theorist perceived this to be the beginning of the disintegration of traditional community, as with Industrialisation, modern occupation and geographical mobility arose the growth of the individual. Durkheim argues that there were two forms of solidarity which held communities together, the ‘mechanical’ solidarity whereby people had strong interlocking social networks linked to that of locality,...
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