The Dimensions of a Community

Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


In Chap.  2, the point was emphasized that realism is passé in community-based planning. As a result, a community emerges from action and should not be identified with obtrusive, empirical traits. Although this claim is true, the process of conceptualizing and locating a community is complex. Human action is central but a host of issues is involved. Conceptualizing a community, for example, includes the recognition of others, criteria for inclusion, a knowledge base, and boundaries. These elements, accordingly, must be determined through participation, since a uniform reality is difficult to justify in the absence of realism (Campbell and Murray, Journal of Health Psychology, 9(2):187–195, 2004). In the end, a community emerges through joint action that establishes a foundation for further decisions, or constructions. This base, however, does not necessarily represent an all-encompassing reality, with exact and objective parameters. Through human intervention the appearance is created that a community is something substantial. In the absence of an obtrusive referent, a domain of inclusion is created and reinforced. Possibilities are narrowed and behavioral expectations outlined. Over time, simply put, certain values and commitments are accepted as normative, at least until additional interpretations are considered to be valid. In this sense, a particular rendition of Communitas is operative—that is, persons are bound together by commitments instead of external features (Esposito, Communitas, 2010, pp. 6–7). Most important is that any social reality, or construction, must be confirmed by the members of a community to have any legitimacy.


Empiricism Social indicator analysis Community construction Paramount reality Social solidarity Multiculturalism Community entrée 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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