Community components

October 7

During class today we dug deeper into community and even tried to outline the components.  We started with descriptions of communities we currently belong to, then distilled out four common components.  I have transcribed what we came up with, and then copied some other definitions below to see how well our definition matched up.  There will be NO class this Sunday, but we will get back together October 21, when we will consider the role trust plays in communities.

Community components – What we came up with

  1. Communication
    1. Needs to feel like a ‘small group’
    2. personal
  2. Common Cause or Purpose
    1. Shared experience
    2. Issue based, e.g. political or other affiliation
  1. Investment or participation – doing something
    1. Contributing when you’re not required to ( altruism)
    2. e.g. businesses contributing during crises
  2. Payoff – you get something back
    1. Could be either tangible (e.g. meals, money, transportation, etc.)
    2. or intangible (e.g. support, security, identity)
    3. (this is not necessarily the reason for being in community, but more a bi-product of bringing generosity and needs together)

The communities we described were centered:

  • In workplaces,
  • In neighborhoods,
  • On-line,
  • At restaurants (e.g. morning coffee groups)

These tend to be places where we spend our time (most of the examples came from workplaces).

I have lifted some definitions from Wikipedia below.  It was gratifying to see how closely our components line up with the research.  We pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Definitions from other sources [wikipedia “sense of community’]

For Sarason, psychological sense of community is “the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure” (1974, p. 157).

McMillan & Chavis (1986) define sense of community as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

Four elements of sense of community [Wikipedia – “Sense of Place”]

There are four elements of “sense of community” according to the McMillan & Chavis theory:


Membership includes five attributes:

  • boundaries
  • emotional safety
  • a sense of belonging and identification
  • personal investment
  • a common symbol system


Influence works both ways: members need to feel that they have some influence in the group, and some influence by the group on its members is needed for group cohesion.

Integration and fulfillment of needs

Members feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community.

Shared emotional connection

The “definitive element for true community” (1986, p. 14), it includes shared history and shared participation (or at least identification with the history).

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