Community Lost, Found, or Liberated? COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY THE COMMUNITY QUESTION • • • The Community Lost Argument The Community Saved Argument The Community Liberated Argument • COMMUNITY AS PERSONAL NETWORK: THE PERSONAL COMMUNITIES OF EAST YORKERS COMMUNITY VS. SOCIETY • Ferdinand Toennies (1855-1936) was interested in contrasting primitive communities (gemeinschaft) with modern industrial (gesellschaft) societies. • Community (gemeinschaft) is characterized by a predominance of close personal bonds or kinship relationships. • Society (gesellschaft) is characterized by a predominance of more impersonal or business-type relationships. DEFINITIONS OF COMMUNITY • According to Wellman, urban sociology has tended to be "neighbourhood sociology". • He asserts that analyses of large-scale urban phenomena have been neglected in favour of smallscale studies of communities. • Further, the study of such communities has been based on "neighbourhoods". • Wellman questions whether "neighbourhood" and "community" are really the same thing. Wellman states that definitions of community tend to include three criteria: • 1. networks of interpersonal ties (outside of the household) which provide sociability and support to members. • 2. residence in a common locality • 3. solidarity sentiments and activities. Wellman reviews three competing sociological arguments about the community question from a network perspective. These arguments are: 1. the community lost argument 2. the community saved argument 3. the community liberated argument • The community lost argument asserts that there is an absence of local solidarities in contemporary society, in particular in urban neighbourhoods. • The community saved argument, argues just the opposite, that there is considerable social solidarity to be found in contemporary society, indeed to be found in urban neighbourhoods. • The community liberated argument, while agreeing with parts of the first two arguments, it sets out a new line of argument in asserting that a variety of structural and technological developments have liberated communities from the confines of neighbourhoods and dispersed network ties from all-embracing solidary communities to more narrowly based ones. COMMUNITY LOST • Based on theoretical speculation (e.g., on the work of Durkheim, Toennies, and others). • The community lost arguments puts forth the view that the transformation of Western societies to centralized industrial bureaucratic structures has gravely weakened primary ties and communities, making the individual more dependent on formal organizations. Imagery • One image that arises from this perspective is the notion that people are fundamentally evil (or in Wellman's words, easily capable or being driven to evil by industrialism, bureaucraticism, or capitalism). • "Where restraining communal structures have been destroyed by the Industrial Revolution, riot, robbery, and rape have swept the city." Policy implications • The "lost" argument has led to a certain amount of despair on the part of administrators, etc. • When "community development" projects have not seemed feasible, or have initially been unsuccessful there has been a tendency to remove services and programs ... leaving urbanites to fend for themselves ... COMMUNITY SAVED • Based on field studies of urban neighbourhoods (e.g., the work of Herbert Gans). • The community saved argument asserts that neighbourhood communities have persisted in industrial bureaucratic societies. This perspectives sees communities as very important sources of support and stability. Imagery • This view has tended to see humans as being basically good and inherently gregarious. • People are seen as having a tendency towards organizing self-regulating communities ... even under extreme conditions of poverty, oppression, or catastrophe. • Like the lost argument, the saved argument sees the community neighbourhood as an ideal. • But unlike the lost argument, the saved argument sees this ideal as attainable and often already existing in urban environs. • Policy Implications • One implication of the "saved" argument is that movements have arisen to protect urban neighbourhoods from "urban renewal". COMMUNITY LIBERATED • A third perspective, "the community liberated" agrees with aspects of the first two perspectives. • The liberated argument, according to Wellman, asserts that a variety of structural and technological developments have liberated communities from the confines of neighbourhoods and dispersed network ties from all-embracing solidary communities to more narrowly based ones. These developments include: • 1. cheap, effective transportation and communication facilities. • 2. the separation of workplace and kinship ties into nonlocal, nonsolidary networks. • 3. high rates of social and residential mobility. Imagery • According to this perspective, people are seen as having a tendency to form primary ties. • People are neither inherently good or evil. • They are practical. • They form ties to accomplish specific ends. Policy implications • According to this view, the neighbourhood is no longer seen as the primary basis for community and support. • Neither are formal institutions relied on exclusively for support. To quote Wellman: • "Instead, networks are to be mobilized, and where they do not exist they can be constructed so that urbanites may find supportive places. The Community Question: Lost, Saved, and Liberated Arguments Compared with East York Findings. Argument Community Community Community Lost Saved Liberated East York Findings (Main Tendencies) Basis of Intimacy: Availability Rare Abundant Relational Formal role Kin, neighborhood Spatial Local Local Mode of Contact In person In person Abundant Friendship, work Metropolitan, national In person, telephone 5+ intimates Kin, friendship Metropolitan Telephone, in person Community Structure: Density Sparse Dense Sparse Sparse Reciprocity No Yes Uneven Uneven Boundedness Ramified Tight Ramified Ramified Prevalence Minimal Abundant Moderate Moderate Relational Source Relational Basis Formal ties Local* Kin, neightborhood Local Friendship, work Metropolitan, national Parent/child, work Metropolitan Density Structural Source Dense* Secondary Dense Solidary group Sparse Network ties N.S. Network ties Basis of Assistance: * To the extent to which primary ties exist.