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The Study of the Community

Meaning and nature of Community

Based in his researches on the meaning of community, Goerge Hillery (1995), defines
community as consisting of persons in social interactions within a geographical area and
having one or more additional ties

This definition includes:

 Territorial aspect (geographical area)
 Sociological aspect (social interaction)
 A psychological aspect (common ties)

A community refers to an organized way of life within a geographical area. It refers to a

population aggregate inhibating a delimited area, sharing a historical heritage, processing a
set of basic service institution, participating in common life, conscious of local unity, and able
to act together in a common life, and able to act together in solving problems involving public

Other authorities define community as referring to a group pf people who occupy a

common contiguous territory, possessed of a common set of traditions associated with their
living together in that territory, and served by a set of local institutions which make them
independent in their surroundings to a high degree, and who are conscious enough of their
common interests.

Functions of Community

 A system of production, distribution and consumption. A community must

provide for the basic needs of man and his group: food, clothing, dwelling,
transportation, education, and other goods for basic existence, either by producing
them from outside.
 A system of socialization. A community must provide mechanism for transmission
of existing knowledge, social values, and dominant patterns of behaviour to the
 A system of social control. This requires mechanisms through which conformity to
the prevailing group norms are ensured. Formal organization such as the police, the
courts and the church are important in this aspect.
 A system of social participation. Members of a community learn to interact with
other members spontaneously, starting from the family to a much bigger group.
Often, religious organization or civic association perform this function by providing a
means for members of the community to interact with one another to renew their
commitments to community values and norms.
 A system of mutual support. The community is always expected to provide relief
and solutions to the members problems.

Approaches to the study of Community.

Several approaches to the study of communities have been adopted. Each of these
approaches emphasizes a particular aspect of community life.

The community as a territorial unit. People think of their community as the

physical place or geographic environment in which they live. This place both personal and
shared meaning for the inhabitants.

Many communities are located in certain geographical area because the characteristic
of that environment has attracted people.

Mass transportation or the presence of highways may also affect the location of a
community, for the people may want to get quickly and easily from their places of residence
to their jobs ans shops.

The community as a social group. The community may be seen as consisting of

people who are more than aggregate of isolated individuals and who often interact with one
another, have share culture, and find their contact with one another meaningful. E.T Hitler
first expounded that the community is one of the basic properties of social groups:
1. a body of members
2. one or more tests of membership
3. a collection of assigned roles
4. a set of norms

The community as a social system. The social system view looks at the
community as a relatively enclosed system of interaction centered in some locality. A
collection of a small subsystems performs various community functions such as socialization
of members, social control of the people living in a community, and mutual support among

The community as a network of interactions. As a social system, the

community encompasses a broad range of interrelated institutions such as families, schools,
churches and political and civic organization. It is in this sense tha the community offers an
ideal setting in which to observe patterns of human interaction in a wide variety of
institutional settings. These patterns of interaction make up the unique texture of life in the

Communities as units of observation. Sociologist and social anthropologist are

interested in the nature and function of the community. Social anthropologist and rural
sociologist have concentrated on the study of the small communities with clearly delineated
territories and relatively simple social structures. Urban sociologists have usually directed
their attention to problems of specific areas undergoing complex social change. In either
case, communities are excellent social units for study and observation.

Characteristics of the community

The following are the general characteristics or elements of every community.

 Population aggregate preferable to human group

 Delimited area it exist somewhere; it occupies a particular space, a
measurable habitat; every community has a centre.
 Sharing of historical heritage this implies an interest in the areas past, a
concern for what has happened
 Participating in a common life this refers to the life pursuit of people, day
by day, the year round. This means that the people must have common
 Consciousness of local unity this means much the same as community
spirit, that a community exist in the minds of its members as an object of
attention and concern.
 Ability to act together in solving civic problems this is the best single test of
a community; in time of crisis people acting together must achieve and
maintain control or else they face the loss of cherished values, the loss of
their way of life, or the death of their community.

Criteria for classification

Kingsley Davis gave some criteria in classifying communities:

1. the size of the population a (whether thick or scarce)

2. The secondary associations their presence will indicated diversity of the
3. Social tolerance caused by diversity of the population and imposonal contacts.
4. Secondary controls controls regulating the complex and predatory relation.
5. Social mobility requires division of labour, competition and impersonality.
6. spatial segregation in which the center of the city is monopolized by functions
ans self-centered

Rural urban interaction pattern

As earlier discussed, a community is a type of social grouping which has a system or
structure of interrelated parts. It is a human population living within a geographical area and
carrying on a common interdependent life. Its essence lies in the relationships within it. It
may refer to a neighbourhood, a town, a city, or even a nation.

Communities are types of social groupings, which are extensions of the groupings of
family. They vary greatly in many ways such as size and population density, occupation, and
specialization. Some are very small consisting of few families like the barangays or sitios,
while others consist of thousands and millions of people like metro manila, New York,
London, and Calcutta.

A community is rural when the people live in contiguous farms, their chief
occupations and interest are fishing and farming, and they have certain interests and
purposes to common actions. It refers to a number of families residing in a relatively small
area within which there lives have developed a more-or-less complete socio-cultural definition
imbued with collective identification and by means of which they solve problems arising from
the sharing of an area.

The following characterize the rural interaction pattern:

 Primary contacts among the population
 Complete and solid due to peoples cooperation.
 Gemienschaft in nature
 Homogenous in terms of population.
 Familiarity among members
 Life is characterized by general competence.

The urban patterns of interaction:

 Secondary contacts among the population
 Population is segmented due to limited and minimal personal relationships
 Gesselschaft in nature
 Population is heterogeneous in terms of occupation, background, attainments
and lifestyle.
 There is an element of anonymity among the people lesser interaction, lesser
personal contact.
 Life is characterized by specialization.

Sociologist used special indices to show how rural-urban differences. These are
occupations, environment, size, density of population, heterogeneity or homogeneity of
culture, social differentiation, and stratification, mobility and system of interaction.

In the Philippines, the urban areas are those that fall under the following categories.

All municipals jurisdiction whether or not designated as chartered cities or provincial

capitals; having a population density of at least 1,000 inhabitants for cities, and 500 per
square kilometre for municipalities.

All poblaciones and any barrio contiguous to the poblaciones with 1,000 inhabitants
fro cities and 500 per square for municipalities.

Strangers and others: from deconstruction to hermeneutics

Richard Kearney
Critical Horizons Vol. 3 num 1 2002

Traditional conception of Strangers

Early civilization thought equated the divine Good with the notions of self-
identity, the experience of evil has often been linked with notions of exteriority or
otherness. The demonic was invariably thought of as an outside invader who
occupies and estranges the inner unity of the soul evil is alienation and the evil
one is the alien. We find many popular media narratives on our screens promoting
paranoia by anathematising what is what is unfamiliar as evil. Such tales
reinforces, once again the idea that the other is an adversary, the stranger a
scapegoat, the dissenter the devil.

Most nation states bent on preserving their body politic from alien viruses seek to
pathologies their adversaries. Faced with a threatening outsider the best mode of
defence is attack. Again and again the national we is defined against the foreign
them. Borders are policed to keep nationals in and aliens out.

Question that confronts us:

How do we confront the benign and malign others?

How do we know when the other is truly an enemy who seeks to destroy us or simply an
innocent scapegoat projected by our own phobias?

How do we account for the fact that not every other is an angel and not every self is an
egoistic emperor?

Folk Societies

Robert Redfield defined folk society as a group of homogeneous, isolated, non-

literate people living in a small community with a high degree of group solidarity. It offers an
ideal unit of observation for the student of society. Around the world there are remain to this
day many isolated settlements, hamlets, villages, and small towns of less than three
thousand residents.

Additional researches
Redfields Folk-Urban Continuum - Urban Societies
Great Tradition (elites) - literate
organic solidarity, achieved statuses
large scale, not isolated
technical order dominant - arrangements holding people together result from mutual
usefulness or coercion (law)

Redfields Folk-Urban Continuum
Serves as the basis of linear modernization theories
Is essentially dualistic and based on externally defined features of peasants
Presumes the incorporation of peasants into the urban, modern world as proletariats
(and thus their demise)

Foraging Societies
small mobile population - band level of social organization
35-50 people or less, get together on an intermittent basis
egalitarian (i.e., equal access to resources and prestige) in emphasis
prestige and authority based on personal qualities (achieved status)
Horticultural Societies
began with the Neolithic Revolution, 12-15,000 years ago
sedentary population, 100-500 per community, sometimes up to 1000+
diverse family forms, often large extended families, unilineal descent groups
larger kin groups are the key basis of social organization
Pastoral Societies
usually nomadic (need for grazing lands) or are semi-sedentary
tribal level of organization based on kin groups
usually patrilineal with emphasis on activities of men
achieved status with egalitarian emphasis often present

What is a Community?

What is a community? This is an interesting question to ask but a difficult one to answer.
Many scholars have attempted to define community or to describe what makes up a
community and Galbraith (1990) talks about the multi-dimensionality of community. Massey
(1992) also describes how changes in the world economy are impacting on visions of "home,"
"place," or "locality." In concert with the main theme of this book, Decker (1992) suggests
that communities need to be where learning can take place. Various sources referenced at
the end of this chapter provide these varied and contrasting conceptions or dimensions of

The word "community" comes from the Latin term, Communis, meaning fellowship or
common relations and feelings. In its medieval usage the word was perhaps more
descriptive, meaning a body of fellows or fellow townspeople. This definition is still relevant,
since the average person today usually defines community in reference to locality, such as a
hometown, place of residence, or neighborhood.

However, there are many other ways of examining the meaning of community beyond a
locality reference. This does not mean that the community as a locality base is dying out;
rather, the nature of community is complex and changing. Thus, more precision is needed to
promote an understanding of community adequate enough for effective living and survival in
a situation of change.

One of the least precise ways for describing a community is to place it at either of two
opposite poles. Yet, such a description often is used. Such polarities have been variously
described as the range from rural to urban, folk culture to mass culture, simple organization
to complex, or Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft (see the definitions later in this chapter). In
whatever way these contrasting positions are described, they provide little assistance in
helping you describe a personal perception of community.

On a slightly higher scale of precision, community can be described strictly on the basis of
geographic locality. This is perhaps the one community descriptor with which most people are
familiar. Included would be such statements as: "Kalamazoo, Michigan, is my home

community!" "I was born in New York." "I came from Vancouver, British Columbia." "I moved
to a retirement village in southern Florida." "I'm a United States citizen." Thus, locality can
range from individual perceptions