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Related to community: Community Bank


a. the people living in one locality
b. the locality in which they live
c. (as modifier): community spirit
2. a group of nations having certain interests in common
3. (in Wales since 1974 and Scotland since 1975) the smallest unit of local government; a subdivision of a district
4. Ecology a group of interdependent plants and animals inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other through food and other relationships


An interacting population of individuals living in a specific area with increased emphasis on sustainable building and sustainable development. Design and building-related practices enhancing and supporting community ideals and functions are considered more sustainable than those that do not, all else being equal.


Any set of social relationships operating within certain boundaries, locations or territories. The term (as used by both sociologists and geographers) has descriptive and prescriptive connotations in both popular and academic usage. It may refer to social relationships which take place within geographically defined areas or neighbourhoods, or to relationships which are not locally operative but exist at a more abstract, ideological level. For example, the term ‘lesbian community’ may refer to an actual settlement of women (e.g. ‘lesbian ghetto’, see E. Ettore, 1978), or it may refer to a collective of women sharing ideas and life styles, but not necessarily residing together in the same spatial area.

It has been suggested that the concept is one of the most difficult and controversial in modern society. Lowe (1986) suggests that it ‘ranks only with the notion of class in this respect’. It is certainly a term which has attracted many different interpretations and has been subjected to wide use and abuse.

In popular usage, the term has often been associated with positive connotations, as in the phrases ‘a sense of community’ or ‘community spirit’. It is clear that the term is not only descriptive, but also normative and ideological. Sociological discourse has often reinforced prescriptive usages of the term. Influenced by a tradition of 19th-century romanticism, some sociologists have regarded community as necessarily beneficial to human needs and social interaction. This tradition was particularly strong in the 19th century, but is by no means absent in 20th-century sociological thought.

In the 19th century, the German sociologist TÖNNIES drew a distinction between what he called GEMEINSCHAFT and GESELLSCHAFT. The former denoted community relationships which were characterized by their intimacy and durability: status was ascribed rather than achieved; and kin relationships took place within a shared territory and were made meaningful by a shared culture. Conversely, Gesellschaft gave rise to relationships which were impersonal, fleeting and contractual. Such relationships were both rational and calculative rather than affective: status was based on merit and was therefore achieved; and gesellschaftlich relationships were competitive and often characterized by anonymity and alienation. Tönnies believed that the processes of industrialization and urbanization would give rise to the destruction of gemeinschaftlich relationships and that gesellschaftlich relationships would consequently flourish. He was concerned by what he took to be the breakdown of traditional society, authority and the loss of community. In Tönnies’ work we can see the high value he implicitly placed on the old social order and his ambivalence towards industrialization and urbanization (compare SIMMEL). It is this romanticized view of traditional society’ that has given rise to the association of the concept of community’ with ideas of social support, intimacy and security Thus traditional communities have often been portrayed as close-knit and as facilitating cooperation and mutual aid between members. In contrast, the URBANIZATION process has been identified as destructive of both ‘community’ and communities. Research by Young and Willmott (1960) and Gans (1962) has, however, raised serious doubts about any such simple association between urbanization and ‘loss of community’.

Sociologists have usually been less concerned with categorizing and identifying the physical and geographical characteristics of communities than with examining the nature and quality of the social relationships sustained by them. Recent sociology has also been concerned with the analysis of community action and collective resistance to social problems (Castells, 1976).

Whatever the definitional difficulties, all communities, both real and symbolic, exist and operate within boundaries or territories. Boundaries serve to demarcate social membership from nonmembership. Communities may be seen to be inclusive of some people and social groups, but exclusive of others. In some cases, community boundaries are rigidly maintained (e.g. some religious communities), in others the boundaries are more fluid and open.

Worsley (1987) has suggested that, despite the difficulties involved in theorizing about ‘community’ and communities’, three broad meanings can be identified within sociological literature. The first he describes as ‘community as locality’. Here the interpretation of the term comes closest to its geographical meaning of a ‘human settlement within a fixed and bounded local territory’. Secondly, he suggests that ‘community’ has been used to denote a ‘network of interrelationships’ (Stacey, 1969). In this usage, community relationships can be characterized by conflict as well as by mutuality and reciprocity In the third usage, community can be seen to refer to a particular type of social relationship; one that possesses certain qualities. It infers the existence of a ‘community spirit’ or ‘community feeling’. This usage comes closest to a common-sense usage and does not necessarily imply the existence of a local geographical area or neighbourhood.

Community remains an important, if controversial, concept in sociology. See CHICAGO SCHOOL, COMMUNITY STUDIES, COMMUNITY CARE, COMMUNITARIANISM.


Aggregation of organisms characterized by a distinctive combination of two or more ecologically related species; an example is a deciduous forest. Also known as ecological community.


A group of people having common rights, privileges, or interests, or living in the same place under the same laws and regulations.
References in periodicals archive ?
In many ways, the East End became a kind of community, although a different kind of community than in usually implied when this term is used in reference to working-class neighborhoods.
Lawrence River and how the Mohawk tribe's culture of interaction with the physical environment exposes the community to pollutants that may affect physical, cognitive, and social well-being.
We're proud to sponsor these awards, which recognize the important role that CDFIs play in making our communities stronger," said Wachovia Director of Community Relations Mike Rizer.
Community colleges have responded to the Department of Homeland Security offer by repositioning themselves as the training ground for "first responders"--the police officers, firefighters, emergency workers and health professionals expected to arrive first on the scene after a terrorist attack.
Task force members collected information about nearly 100 community activities available to youths and conveyed it to parents and teens through the local media and a Web site.
Relatedly, Henderson and Mapp have synthesized S 1 studies that highlight the positive influences of family and community involvement in schools on student academic achievement.
Again, although the focus is on social change and the sense of community experienced by residents in the six agrarian towns, more discussion of the changing aspects of health care availability and delivery would have contributed to her well-reasoned argument.
The team began working with Asian-American communities to develop a culturally tailored intervention that 1) promoted community understanding of the facts related to the transmission and prevention of SARS; 2) contributed to the strengthening of community resiliency and capacity to mitigate fear, stigmatization, and discrimination; and 3) encouraged appropriate health-seeking behaviors for those who may have been exposed to SARS and were experiencing early symptoms.
The lack of sustained cancer education programs in Los Angeles targeting South Asians, the high number of South Asian women still not participating in cancer screening programs, and the existence of many barriers, (Umme Shefa Warda, 2000) and our own experiences in working with this population group, prompted the need for CIS and AANCART to collaborate and introduce cancer education programs targeting South Asians in Los Angeles through this trusted community based agency, the South Asian Network.
Looking to stay ahead of the competition, community colleges need to meet the market demands of students while maintaining the ideals of higher education.
The author was able to use an adapted version of the Chicago Community Asthma Survey-32 (CCAS-32) she had selected from her initial project.
To give the S & T community a fair chance to meet a requirement, it is essential that an ICD be established in the very early concept refinement phase of the pre-systems acquisition, before the S & T program begins investing funds in an effort.

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