chapter
community
Pages 8

The concept of community has been one of the widest and most frequently used in social science; its examination has been a focus of attention for at least the past 200 years. At the same time a precise definition of the term has proved elusive. Among the more renowned attempts remains that of †Robert Redfield ([1949] 1960:4), who identified four key qualities in community: a smallness of social scale; a homogeneity of activities and states of mind of members; a consciousness of distinctiveness; and a self-sufficiency across a broad range of needs and through time. Nevertheless, in 1955, Hillery could compile ninety-four social-scientific attempts at definition whose only substantive overlap was that ‘all dealt with people’ (1955:117)! Often, to overcome this problem, community is further specified by a qualifying or amplifying phrase: the ‘local community’, the ‘West Indian community’, the ‘community of nations’ or ‘souls’. But this would seem only to beg the question.