Community, Sense of Community, and Networks
In one of the earliest and most often referenced writings on sense of community, Seymour Sarason noted the inherent difficulty of linking the concepts of community and psychology (Sarason, 1974). The community concept brought with it a focus on extra-individual phenomena, such as geographic place, institutional dynamics, and power. The psychological orientation was believed to narrow focus to individual experience. In the 25 plus years following Sarason’s observations, psychologists have developed a number of models of sense of community, and we have devised various instruments for the measurement of psychological sense of community. This work has deepened understanding of the psychology of community phenomena such as belonging and mutual commitment. However, this focus on psychological experience has been achieved at the cost of largely ignoring the role of community and social phenomena that strongly influence individual and group experience of community. This observation is not new. It was made by Dunham in a 1986 critique of research on psychological sense of community, concluding that we had “shot wide of the mark” by not incorporating aspects of community theory into our analyses (Dunham, 1986, p. 400). Similarly, Wiesenfeld (1996, p. 339) noted that the “homogeneous quality of community” had been overemphasized.
KeywordsSocial Capital Police Department Community Psychology Limited Liability Structural Hole
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