The Nature of Community

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 124
  • Published : November 13, 2005
Open Document
Text Preview
The Nature of Community
Robert L. Warren*
The idea of the American community is deceptively simple, as long as one does not require a rigid definition. The term evokes a rich imagery associated with the "country village," the "small town," or the "big city" of an earlier day. One thinks of the country village's Main Street, with its several stores and post office, and the streets, houses, and lawns that immediately surround it in the setting of an enveloping prairie, dairy-farm country, or forest. One recalls the road that traverses the five, ten, or twenty miles—seldom more except in the Far West—connecting it with a small city. Here in the small city is a larger population, a greater variety of shops and services, a daily newspaper, a series of wholesale establishments serving surrounding villages, perhaps a college or university, a hospital, a number of industries. Or one imagines the larger city with its concentration of people, its burgeoning suburbs, its businesses, medical center, museums, department stores, and newspapers that serve a large section of the state or perhaps parts of several states. One thinks of places large and small, places whose appearances reflect the specialized industrial or other functions they perform, places that vary with climate and topography, with the origin of the people who first settled or later migrated there, with diverse history and traditions—places that differ from each other in a dozen ways and yet with much in common. The idea of the American community is deceptively simple, as long as one does not require a rigid definition. The term evokes a rich imagery associated with the "country village," the "small town," or the "big city" of an earlier day. One thinks of the country village's Main Street, with its several stores and post office, and the streets, houses, and lawns that immediately surround it in the setting of an enveloping prairie, dairy-farm country, or forest. One recalls the road that traverses the five, ten, or twenty miles—seldom more except in the Far West—connecting it with a small city. Here in the small city is a larger population, a greater variety of shops and services, a daily newspaper, a series of wholesale establishments serving surrounding villages, perhaps a college or university, a hospital, a number of industries. Or one imagines the larger city with its concentration of people, its burgeoning suburbs, its businesses, medical center, museums, department stores, and newspapers that serve a large section of the state or perhaps parts of several states. One thinks of places large and small, places whose appearances reflect the specialized industrial or other functions they perform, places that vary with climate and topography, with the origin of the people who first settled or later migrated there, with diverse history and traditions—places that differ from each other in a dozen ways and yet with much in common. One thinks of communities, large or small, as clusters of people living in proximity in an area containing stores and other service facilities for the sustenance of local people and industries whose produce is distributed throughout a much wider area. Surrounding this concentration of people there is usually a much larger geographic area, which is the effective "service area" of that place and whose size varies according to types of "services." Various criteria thought to characterize communities include a specific population living within a specific geographic area with shared institutions and values and significant social interaction.... Basic Transformations in Communities

Recent decades have seen an arresting transformation in American community life. The growth of large metropolitan complexes, including the mushrooming of suburbs and the transformation of the central cities, has received wide attention. But even in smaller communities outside the metropolitan complexes, changes are taking place that make older conceptions of community...
tracking img