community lost argument

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Community Lost, Found, or
Liberated?
COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY
THE COMMUNITY QUESTION
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•
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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.
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