(pls boost) What ideals do you place in the concept of "community"?

It tends to be a positive word, one people put a lot of desire and aspiration into. I'd like to know more about what that means for you

· · Web · 7 · 21 · 4


The capacity for spontaneous discovery of meaning.

Without a community everything we do is in isolation and thus dependent upon our own motivations and pre-existing knowledge.

In a community everything we do has the capacity to grow in ways beyond ourselves.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe Thanks. I think you've hit on some of the actual good aspects, that acknowledge the inherent chaos of community and don't depend on the ideals.

@nach Not having to explain low-level concepts because everybody already knows them.

@nach Somewhere you feel safe and supported to truly be yourself

@nach for me 'community' is a very mixed word. As someone isolated by disability, I would love to have more community, but in my experience 'community' has been more likely to mean people judging one another, sticking their nose into other people's business, imposing 'traditional' values that exclude me. When people talk about 'getting involved in the community' it rings of inaccessible activities centred around sanctimonious values that are alienating.

@nach I know it shouldn't, but, eg, when my mum talks about her community, I know she and they would hate me if I were to move I to their era. I would be exactly the kind of person they would bitch about in the pub for not being 'community minded'.

@Rhube thank you. I'm not disabled, but our experiences of alienation within some communities might be similar: conformity, not reciprocity. Expectations of forgiveness but without any kind of restitution; a mere ritual for letting everyone forget about a bad thing someone did, so they can get back to the Good Times Only status quo. Norms that eject abused and marginalised people.

It's a word that'll make my heart sink for a while yet

@nach The disability point was more about why I feel isolated (I literally can't get out to see people) rather than why I sometimes feel alienated from the word 'community' which, yeah, very much often feels like conformity and needing to be in each other's business. Like, I should like to be in a supportive and social environment without having to *always* exposing myself to the community and its norms, you know?

@nach I tend to be skeptical when I hear the word community. I think Raymond Williams in Keywords warned that despite being an incredibly complicated concept with many potential meanings, it only has positive connotations... which is a problem.

People can use the word community to mean connection and mutual aid, or exclusionary NIMBY politics. The real issue I observed when studying grassroots political organizations is often those people think they mean the same thing, creating a huge mess.

@nach Which is to say my cynical brain reads it as vague to the point of meaninglessness - a blank space that needs a lot of questioning of motives before I decide what it means. Exhausting.

@TonyaCanning Thank you, I hadn't heard of Keywords. I've been reflecting on a similar scepticism, in that I usually hear community used to denote an idealised past/future, or an exceptionalist present. None of those ideals, or the laundered norms underneath them, square with the chaos and hurt I've witnessed in multiple communities of place and interest

@nach Recommend Keywords for folks who like to ponder the deeper meaning of social sciencey concepts. I find it helpful to learn the history of a word's development to start seeing subtle connotations I might have previously overlooked.

@TonyaCanning do you have any preference between the 1976, 1983 or 2005 editions?

@nach If I knew the difference, can't remember now. Mine is 1983 version and given Williams died in the 1980s I'm guessing there was a reason I didn't get the latest one.

@nach my old church was called 'Royston Area Community Church'. there was a lot of stuff there i hated, as you might imagine. but the community aspect to me was good - it meant a network of people who could be relied upon, never having to undertake a difficult task on your own. i guess nowadays we'd call it 'mutual aid'?

@firefly that's good. I grew up in a church that had all the bad bits, but anything even resembling mutual aid, right down to who felt able to ask, was heavily mediated by status. I wonder what can push for those positive aspects to be generalised and available to all?

@nach I wonder if it was mediated by status in my church too? I was the kid of one of the leadership team, so treated like the Next Big Thing. I'd probably be blind to it

@firefly Maybe? I've started to realise the street I grew up on probably felt more like an ideal of community to me partly because I was too young to see ways it didn't live up to that (still ultimately got fucked by a kind of delayed-onset Thatcherist greed that rotted any sense of fellowship though)

@nach I fear the word community is being poisoned by all the companies/YouTube channels/games/cryptoscams that claim to be built around The Community, when in fact they mean they're building a ponzi scheme.

@jon I wonder a lot about how companies get to define community as a thing centred on a product, with someone then paid to "manage" that community

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Geeks for Social Change

Geeks for Social Change are working towards a fairer society using activism, technology, and research. We welcome friends and acquaintances of the studio to join our server.