Friday, March 5, 2010

"Community" versus "Society"

Do you ever find "community" to be a buzzword? I do sometimes. I think that people exchange the word "society" for "community," purposely or not.

I have been interested in the concept(s) of community for years now and especially after studying conflict resolution in grad school. Now that I work in a local non-profit, I use the word often. But I often think...which community? What are we all talking about? Now, I studied geography in undergrad for a reason; I think that place and one's sense of place is very important in life and in history. However, when I heard about the Glenwood, the Greensboro or the Guilford County communities, I think, Wait, those are locations, boundaries--not necessarily communities. I guess that on a small enough scale you can get away with it? I've hear a lot about but have not been active with the Glenwood neighborhood, but to me it seems like community could be used to describe this--yes--geographic area. I was going to write "local community" at some point but I thought it seemed vague...and it does. But, that's why I now like it because it could refer to one of many local communities. Great, now I'm going to obsess over what "local" means. Me and my semantics.

So, does someone's level of activity, or affinity, or something like that make them a part of a community or not? Is it your address? Have you ever felt like someone labeled you as a part of a community that you did not feel connected to?

I guess that when you use the word, you know what you are talking about. But is your meaning of "community" really being conveyed to whomever it is you are talking to? It may be since many people may accept the nebulous meaning of the word. Still, people feel like they are a part on one community or another or of many communities--jut like culture(s). So, when you bring up community, are you referring to that person's community? The group that that person has strong enough ties to that he or she is very active in it or wants to be?

There was a book (ahem, chapter in the book) I read a while back that seemed to ease my anxiety on the idea of community. I can't remember the title! Ok, now off to comb through my old bibliographies...

1 comment:

  1. Geeze Louise,

    The world we live in today does not paint the word community as it should. I think your interpretation of "it," points it out. If i were to ask you to define a community in its purest form, would it be something like;

    A network of individuals closely related by blood and immediate location, working together for sustainability of the whole?

    Society is the product of actions that focus more on self interest, resulting in a tear of that fabric. Its a mess of bits and pieces of our communities. Whether its going after lots more money than your neighbor or drugs, lying or cutting off communication to others. Certain behavior will disrupt the harmony, and we end up with society.

    In the way you describe it, you almost see it. You name neighborhoods as possible communities but you also realize that what is missing is a sort of comraderie(sp?).

    I'd label tribes a community, or tribal way of thinking and behavior. We naturally practice it because its instinctual to our survival but we do it in a web composed of a sense of superiority over our own collective.

    If you can see this, then i only ask that you help to spread it. All it takes is opening people's eyes and practicing it. Your actions every day have a purpose, and in a community its to make things better. Whether its work or play. Then, your community can rise out of society.