What Makes a Community?
While this post isn't specifically about exploring Second and Third Tier, it contains a wealth of information useful for satisfying the longing for "community" that is so widespread among everyone--and that is especially poignant for those on the fringes of societal mainstream, like most readers here.
Some of the information is old, as I have copied this from a private blog in an online forum that I did back when, but I offer it in the spirit of helpfulness, and would love to hear how you use it.
For some reflections more specifically on Second and Third Tier "community" you might check out these other blogposts:Exploring Group Shadows of Teal Groups/Organizations
How Second Tier Functioning Might Show Up in Group Processes
or any others with the tag "we-space" or "groups"
Original exploration around the concept of community:
Are we really a community, or are we just a collection of people who choose to be in the same section of cyberspace? How can we know whether we are a community or a collection? And does it make any difference?? Well, if it makes a difference to you, please read here and add your perspectives and preferences.
The people riding a bus are not a community. The people viewing a movie in a theatre are not a community. The cast of a play might or might not be a community. A family might or might not be a community.
The people living in the same town are called "a community" but are they always? The people in a church might or might not be a community. The people within a business might or might not be a community, usually not. A sports team might or might not be a community. A social club or common-interest group (which perhaps we are the closest to) might or might not be a community.
An organization gathered "for a cause" might or might not be a community. Sometimes a collection, like people on the same cruise ship, can become what might be called a "community" in an emergency they face together.
Reasons for thinking about definitions of community: What would be benefits of this exploration be, for our community??
I think it would be very worthwhile for us together to look at some definitions of "community", because the more we know about who we are, the easier it might be to come up with our Vision, Mission, Purpose, and Values which are the foundation for our co-created structure and processes.
Another reason for arriving at a common shared definition of our community-ness is so new people can sense whether they belong here, and can have realistic expectations for what their experiences here might be, so they don't end up disappointed because we aren't the "kind of community" they were expecting us to be.
Obviously, with so many diverse meanings to the term (see below) there is plenty of room for clashing expectations of who we are. Some commonality would promote harmony here.
Different kinds of community, and what makes a community?
Everything below is from Wikipedia. I have bolded the ideas or phrases which I personally feel are most relevant to the kind of community we are or could become, and it's easy to get lost in so many options described, but I believe it's worth reading them so we understand the CONTEXT in which our Community might exist. We can know more about the kind of community we have chosen to be, out of the many options available to us.
Here's Wikipedia's summary of the concept of "community" (and longer discussion) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community [links have been stripped in the copying and pasting process and footnote numbers have been removed as distracting in this post.]
In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting species sharing a populated 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.... 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, [from Alia: hey, cyberspace is a geography!] generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community....
The word "community" is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, "with/together" + munus, "gift"), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.
Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community no longer has geographical limitations, as people can now virtually gather in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location.
Here is further down in the Wikipedia article, on the matter of Sense of Community:
Sense of community
Main article: Sense of community http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_of_community
To what extent do participants in joint activities experience a sense of community?
In a seminal 1986 study, McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of "sense of community": 1) membership, 2) influence, 3) integration and fulfillment of needs, and 4) shared emotional connection. They give the following example of the interplay between these factors:
Someone puts an announcement on the dormitory bulletin board about the formation of an intramural dormitory basketball team. People attend the organizational meeting as strangers out of their individual needs (integration and fulfillment of needs). The team is bound by place of residence (membership boundaries are set) and spends time together in practice (the contact hypothesis). They play a game and win (successful shared valent event). While playing, members exert energy on behalf of the team (personal investment in the group). As the team continues to win, team members become recognized and congratulated (gaining honor and status for being members), Influencing new members to join and continue to do the same. Someone suggests that they all buy matching shirts and shoes (common symbols) and they do so (influence)
A Sense of Community Index (SCI) has been developed by Chavis and colleagues and revised and adapted by others. Although originally designed to assess sense of community in neighborhoods, the index has been adapted for use in schools, the workplace, and a variety of types of communities.
Studies conducted by the APPA show substantial evidence that young adults who feel a sense of belonging in a community, particularly small communities, develop fewer psychiatric and depressive disorders than those who do not have the feeling of love and belonging.
Here's further info about "Sense of Community"
For Sarason, psychological sense of community is "the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure" (1974, p. 157).
McMillan & Chavis (1986) define sense of community as "a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together."
Gusfield (1975) identified two dimensions of community: territorial and relational. The relational dimension of community has to do with the nature and quality of relationships in that community, and some communities may even have no discernible territorial demarcation, as in the case of a community of scholars working in a particular specialty, who have some kind of contact and quality of relationship, but may live and work in disparate locations, perhaps even throughout the world.
Other communities may seem to be defined primarily according to territory, as in the case of neighborhoods, but even in such cases, proximity or shared territory cannot by itself constitute a community; the relational dimension is also essential. [from OM this means being a member of this network does not mean you are or feel you are a member of a community here.]
Community-building and organizing (continuing from Wikipedia)
In The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace, Scott Peck argues that the almost accidental sense of community that exists at times of crisis can be consciously built. Peck believes that conscious community building is a process of deliberate design based on the knowledge and application of certain rules. He states that this process goes through four stages:
Pseudo-community: Where participants are "nice with each other", playing-safe, and presenting what they feel is the most favourable sides of their personalities.
Chaos: When people move beyond the inauthenticity of pseudo-community and feel safe enough to present their "shadow" selves. This stage places great demands upon the facilitator for greater leadership and organization, but Peck believes that "organizations are not communities", and this pressure should be resisted.
Emptiness: This stage moves beyond the attempts to fix, heal and convert of the chaos stage, when all people become capable of acknowledging their own woundedness and brokenness, common to us all as human beings. Out of this emptiness comes
True community: the process of deep respect and true listening for the needs of the other people in this community. This stage Peck believes can only be described as "glory" and reflects a deep yearning in every human soul for compassionate understanding from one's fellows.
Internet communities (from same article on Community)
To a growing part of people the meaning of the word "community" indicates a smaller or larger group of internet users signing up to become members of a community page/system on internet. Examples of internet communities include:
A business community is often an administrative community with possibilities to add CV's and other business-related information.
An interest community is a based on specialized areas such as art, golf or bird watching.
A general community is wider in its range - opening for its users to create areas, pages and groups.
Community of interest summary below, main article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_interest
In some contexts, "community" indicates a group of people with a common identity other than location. Members often interact regularly. Common examples in everyday usage include:
A "professional community" is a group of people with the same or related occupations. Some of those members may join a professional society, making a more defined and formalized group. These are also sometimes known as communities of practice.
A virtual community is a group of people primarily or initially communicating or interacting with each other by means of information technologies, typically over the Internet, rather than in person. These may be either communities of interest, practice or communion. Research interest is evolving in the motivations for contributing to online communities.
Summary of the Community of Interest article:
A community of interest is a community of people who share a common interest or passion. These people exchange ideas and thoughts about the given passion, but may know (or care) little about each other outside of this area. Participation in a community of interest can be compelling, entertaining and create a ‘sticky’ community where people return frequently and remain for extended periods. Frequently, they cannot be easily defined by a particular geographical area.
Other types of community:
Community of action
Community of circumstance
Community of inquiry
Community of place
Community of position
Community of practice
Community of purpose
Following up on Community of Purpose, here is the summary of the item at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_purpose
Community of purpose
A community of purpose is a community of people who are going through the same process or are trying to achieve a similar objective. Such communities serve a functional purpose, smoothing the path of the member for a limited period surrounding a given activity. For example, researching a topic on Wikipedia.org, buying a car on autobytel.com, antique collectors on icollector.com or individual investors on fool.com. Members of the community assist each other by sharing experiences, suggesting strategies and exchanging information on the process in hand.
Communities of purpose enable and empower people to get stuff done. From Amazon to eBay to Get Satisfaction, the community's purpose revolves around allowing people to accomplish something they want or need to do whether it’s buying something, selling something, fixing something, dating, or the like.
The design and implementation of a community of practice depends on the intended outcomes the site serves. The aspect of community that empowers a community of purpose has to do with the ways in which the people who participate nudge, assist, and inform others along the path from having an un-satiated want to achieving their goals, objectives, and tasks.
From user generated reviews or collaborative filtering on a site such as Amazon.com which help people decide what to buy to the reputation system at eBay which gives you a sense of who you’re dealing with before you transact, the community fuels accomplishment.
The gravity of the given community of purpose is directly proportional to how much it makes possible for the people who are there to get something done. While the size of the community matters it has a lot more to do with how effective the participants in the community are, in fact.
However, the size and scale of the active community participation are important as it relates to fulfilling the needs of those who around and are willing to engage to get what they want. Effective communities of practice are balancing act between offering the right capabilities and ensuring sufficient capacity to deliver efficiently. With the possible exception of electronic commerce, media consumption, search, and research (as in Wikipedia) communities of purpose are the most underdeveloped properties on the Internet.
Before I started my research, I would have said most kinds of community that I would want required two characteristics: shared purpose, and caring about one another. Now I think, I might want to add a few more items to that.
by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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