Saturday, May 8, 2010

Community - just what is it?

 sourced via google images.

I have been reading to get a more theoretical understanding of the term community.

What do you think of when I say community?

There are many different types of communities. I have personally been a member of a number of different communities in my life including sporting teams, orchestras, book clubs, school and university, Caucasian, Rotary just to name a few. Among these are the broader communities of musicians, students and race. they also cover the gamut of local, national and international communities. I am privileged in my life to have had these experiences, and am today privileged to be among a community of PhD students, not only at Uni of Melbourne, but also globally.

There is a basic definition of Community in the CCD reader from 2006 when I began my Masters, it states:

"A community can be any group of people who choose to identify with each other. Communities can be created through things people have in common, geographical location, interests, cultural heritage or simply a desire to strengthen relationships and share experiences."

Wikipedia tells us that "
In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting organisms (or different species) sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s.[1] Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community.

 Music Festivals create communities. Port Fairy Folk Festival sourced via google images.

This is  just to get me started. I am reading a number of things at the moment that look at community in different ways.

Richard Florida in The Rise of the Creative Class basically talks about creativity as driving economies and the development of communities around this.

Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community talks about civic engagement and participation as well as the development of social capital as an essential part of creating community.

From Community development literature (Susan Kenny and Jim Ife) there is the concept of common identity which can encompass those things mentioned earlier.

From Community Music Therapy literature, (Gary Ansdell, Mercedes Pavlicevic, Brynjulf Stige and Cochavit Elefant) the idea of community is also based on common identity or the creation of, or people who come together with common goals.

Maybe you're wondering where I stand on all this? Well I definitely define community as something defined by the people who are a part of it. (vague enough?) I am not someone to put labels on others, but as someone who has been part of many communities and for now, for the purposes of my research, community is something that is created by people who have common identity or wish to create one.

It is important for me to have a good theoretical knowledge of Community from the different bodies of literature I have mentioned in order to try and make some sense of the bigger question around this, and that is where are the similarities and differences in the fields of Community Cultural Development and Community Music Therapy.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting post Lou. I enjoyed it a lot.

    I like your definition of community. Simple and inclusive. It's a good one.