Despite being elusive and vague with respect to definition, the term ‘community’ attracts a lot of attention and concerns in various perspectives. Sociologists have failed to come up with a specific meaning or definition of community. However, the concept of community continues to be a main reference point with respect to various individuals (Edwards, 2011). Since the concepts of community have become reference points, a lot of interests and concerns have so far been attracted amongst sociologists and other stakeholders. It is also true that the concepts of community continue to attract the imaginations of people (Palloff & Pratt, 2010). The imaginations arise due to the wide perspective and the connotations of the concept of community. Notably, the concept of community has advanced its significance especially within the context of a dynamic environment.
The dynamisms and fundamental nature of community continue to create the need for a deeper understanding of the concepts surrounding the same. Therefore, the following is a report aimed at describing the concept of community. This report aims at providing various definitions of community, main concepts within communities, the act of making up communities, and interactions within communities.
Consequently, many people try to define community within various contexts. Whereas psychologists would have a different definition from the sociologists, there are specific universal concepts that characterize such definitions. The universal concepts include activities done in groups, bond existing amongst individuals in a group, and the sense of belonging that an individual finds in a group (Kloos et. al., 2011). Therefore, a general overview of the definition of community could be the fundamental aspect of a society that provides a room where through collective activities individuals feel the sense of belonging (Palloff & Pratt, 2010). However, the activities, bonds, and sense of belonging are characteristics that differ from one community context to another.
Different authors have tried to define community in various perspectives. Edwards (2011) defines community within the context of leadership. According to Edwards (2011), a community refers to as a group of people with common goals and a defined leadership for the attainment of the set goals or objectives. In most cases, communities are referred to as the learning communities capable of experiencing the authenticity of life through defined structures and leadership (Edwards, 2011). On a different perspective, Palloff and Pratt (2010) define community within the context of learning. In this context, a community is a group of persons whereby through interactions and relations, individuals learn to accept their diversity for a common purpose (Palloff & Pratt, 2010). In such communities, individuals are usually influenced into accepting other behavioral conducts.
Whilst discussing the fundamental concepts within communities, the definition provided by Murphy et. al. (2012) describes a community as an experience and process where individuals from various backgrounds relate to each other hence share a common destiny. Murphy et. al. (2012) further argued that in such communities all members are able to transcend their differences in a bid to achieve specific goals. Another definition proposed by Kloos et. al. (2011) revolved around the idea of having common perspectives. According to Kloos et. al. (2011), a community is a group of individuals that are driven by a common origin, activity, behavior, dignity, value, or destiny. Therefore, the existence of a community is defined by the common aspects shared.
Indisputably, there are numerous definitions of community. However, the varied definitions have universal concepts (Murphy et. al., 2012). The understanding and definitions of community amongst stakeholders are usually informed by such concepts. Some of the concepts include the origin, functions, destiny, goals/objectives, organizational structures, and leadership structures (Edwards, 2011). Through these concepts, it becomes easier for one to understand the meaning of a community. For instance, a group of persons with common functions, origin, or destiny will provide a good description of a community. Besides, if a group of people has a common goal, organizational structure, or leadership structure then it becomes evident that such a group is a community. These concepts characterize various communities within various contexts. There are professional communities that are characterized by some of these concepts. For example, psychologists belong to a community where they are driven by the same profession and code of conduct (Murphy et. al., 2012). These apply to many other forms of communities within the global arena.
Since the identified concepts characterize communities, it is important to note that various organizations form or make up communities. Such organizations are driven by various concepts such as common origins, functions, goals, or destiny (Murphy et. al., 2012). Examples of organizations that form communities include professional bodies, religious groups, and institutional groups. Professional bodies such as the sociologists form a community while various institutions such as colleges would also form a community on the basis of the commonality in functions, goals, and destiny (Edwards, 2011). Every member within each organization that forms a community in this case is referred to as a community stakeholder.
Notably, organizations and stakeholders within their communities interact and relate in a bid to accomplishing specific goals and objectives. Interactions and relationships amongst organizations and their stakeholders would vary from one community to another depending on the core functions of the community (Murphy et. al., 2012). For instance, a psychologist community would have different interactions and relationships from a college community. It is also important to note that communities take different forms from scales to global (Edwards, 2011). Whereas there are communities that are formed within lower scales, there are communities formed on the global basis or arena.
Indeed, the concepts of community are interesting and complex. Understanding the concepts of community requires a deeper knowledge of the definitions of the community. There are numerous definitions of community that make the whole process of understanding concepts of community more complex. However, through identification of specific characteristics of different organizations, which form communities, it becomes easier for one to understand the concepts of community within various contexts.
Edwards, G., 2011. Concepts of community: A framework for contextualizing distributed leadership. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 13, No. 3; Pp. 301-312.
Kloos, B., Hill, J., Dalton, J. H., Elias, M. J., Wandersman, A., & Thomas, E., 2011. Community psychology: Linking individuals and communities. Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Murphy, F. G., Fawcett, S. B., Schultz, J. A., & Holt, C., 2012. Fundamental Core Concepts in the Community Engagement, Organization, and Development Process. Community Engagement, Organization, and Development for Public Health Practice.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K., 2010. Collaborating online: Learning together in community. Jossey-Bass.