Crittically Examine The Use Of The Term Community

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Crittically Examine The Use Of The Term Community

Critically examine the use of the term ‘community’ in the 1990’s. The essay should be structured in such a way that it incorporates reference to Social Policy, Legislation and practice issues. Students will be required to make use of theoretical studies, particularly from relevant academic and other sources such as books, journals and relevant publications.
The meaning of community is a tricky one. It is used in many different contexts and is a concept that means very different things to different people. A useful starting point is in the book Keywords by Raymond Williams. His research on the word community indicates that it has been part of English language since the 14th century, originally used to refer to the common people as opposed to those of rank, or to state or organised society. By the 16th century it was used to refer to ‘the quality of having something in common’ and ‘ to a sense of common identity and characteristics.’ In time Community also came to refer to a particular quality of relationship, as well as a distinction between community and civil society on one hand and the state on the other.
There are many different types of community and the word is very ambiguous, but it is possible to distinguish between several types according to their contrasting features and characteristics, such as density of their social networks, the degree of their openness and their duration.
Sociologically it is usually taken to mean people who live in a common geographical area or it can be defined in terms of common interest. It implies some kind of association, perhaps even sharing, and participation in common relationships. It is in these shared characteristics which bind people together where we start to understand the term and its implications, although even within sociology community takes many different forms. In 1995 researcher Hillery found 94 sociological definitions and the only common thread was that they all dealt with people.
The classic form of community which many think of when they here the word is the traditional working class communities found throughout industrial Britain during the earlier part of the 20th century. These were tightly knit settlements of workers and their families who grew up around the mines, factories, ports and other workplaces. However with an increasingly efficient transport network many British industries came under threat from cheaper and better quality products from abroad, and within those industries that Britain still held, the workers were replaced with machines.
This loss of industry had a crippling effect on local areas, many of which had grown up around the industry. Research into such areas revealed that such communities are very conservative. They are also seeped in tradition related to these ideologies. Such traditions include a moral obligation to maintain a respectable standard of living and a strong commitment to the work ethic.
Howe’s research on a working class district of Eastlough in Protestant East Belfast showed despite a high unemployment rate the dole was still seen as an interruption of work, and it was legitimate employment which was sought and desired. This was strongly supported by long standing attitudes and values. Being on the dole induced strong feelings of private shame, which, in turn often led people to withdraw from the community. As a result Howe found their lives to become further impoverished by ‘social isolation, fragmentation and distrust’ (Howe 1990).
With the decline of these so-called ‘occupational communities’ comes the notion that the concept of community is not relevant in the 21st century. The Elderly who once belonged to such so called ‘occupational’ communities reminisce about the good old days, when everyone knew and looked out for each other. They talk about a strong community consciousness generated by common residence and common necessity - a social support network that they feel is lacking in modern day society.
Not just among the elderly but in general, there is a widely held belief that modern times have witnessed a decline of community. In my opinion this comes about because selective, romanticised views of the past are often adopted and the less sentimental memories of characteristics and events from the past are often forgotten. The conflicts and internal tensions

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