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Appendix B: The Study of Coal-Mining Settlements and Theories of 'Community'

Since this book is both more than and less than a sociological mono­ graph, theoretical issues in the sociology of community do not receive central attention. Indeed, the theoretical input is implicit rather than explicit, and this is designedly so. Despite a brilliant text-book treatment by Bell and Newby,1 community studies in Britain have come under attack in recent years, and are distinctly unfashionable. Margaret Stacey argued in 1969 that ‘it is doubtful whether the concept “community” refers to a useful abstraction.’2 More recently ambitious macro-theories, particularly those of Harvey and Castells, have come to dominate urban sociology in Britain and eclipse locality studies. The evidence presented in this work may be regarded as a reassertion of the empirical relevance of ‘community’ to an understanding of local social relations, and a demonstration (in one area) of the continuing importance of the locality in the lives of a majority of the population.