Stakeholders make repeated reference to a world beyond the market: the community. Ferdinand 'Ionnies contrasted gemeinschaft (community) and gesellschaft (society or association) in terms of different forms of interaction: community is typified by dense, direct interaction in which people know one another in a variety of roles; association is characterized by much looser instrumental networks.1 The general usage of ‘community’ in both lay and academic discourses lacks this clarity. While its resonance in political discourse increased in the 1990s, partly in reaction to the Thatcherite insistence that there is no such thing as society, its imprecision remains a problem. ‘Community’ may refer to neighbourhoods, while being prescriptive rather than simply descriptive of the forms of relationship within them. It may mean regional or national communities; the UK as a whole; the European community, which usually means those European countries within the European Union rather than Europe as a whole; or the world community. At each level of remove from localities, the reference becomes increasingly one of a commonality of interest, rather than a description of a form of interaction, while at local level, the coincidence of interest and residence is presumed. And community is also used to describe putative interest groups which are not.
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