Old model : community based on place
New model: based on interests
Community: complex set of relationships that operates at several different levels not
o Many definitions of community
Changes in the past 100 years
Recent debates about demise of ‘community’ consequences
Feidinand Tonnies identified the term of Gemeinschaft relations
Gemeinshaft relations usually translated as community. Describes those social relations
that included neighbourness, informal social control and that valued needs of the group
over individual, sense of togetherness based on commonality, physical proximity and
Tonnies argued that in a village or small town, Gemeinschaft relations predominated.
Durkheim used the term mechanical solidarity to define the same homogenous, pre-
Mechanical solidarity was a solidarity that developed out of common beliefs and
sentiments within a group.
The late nineteenth century was also a time of change. Tonnies believed the social
relations were increasingly less characteristic of Gemeinschaft and growing more
characteristic of Gesellschaft.
Tonnie described Gesellschaft as a direct result of the transformation from a folk-type
society to a modern, urban, capitalist society, formal, impersonal, individualistic.
In America, Durkheim’s concern about a complex division of labour and Tonnies’s
concern about the loss of a folk-type society were replaced early in the twentieth
century by concern about the fate of community as a result of urbanization.
Human ecology: the relationship between people and their environment
Robert Park (1915) suggested that the modern methods of urban transportation and
communication-the electric railway, and automobile, and the telephone-have silently
and rapidly changed in recent years the social and industrial organization of the modern
o Primary groups—intimate association characterized by face-to-face association
important in forming group norms and ideals. o Secondary groups—better described as ‘interactions’ than as relationships. They
are fleeting exchanges between strangers or routine instrumental interactions,
such as those between customer and store clerk.
Wirth argued that city and rural life were polar opposites
o The size of the urban environment made it impossible for all urban residents to
know each other and as a result necessitated the shift from primary to secondary
o Wirth observed that the density and heterogeneity of the urban environment led
people to live in homogeneous groups.
o Wirth argued that mixing across groups was difficult, and as a result urban
residents were highly segmented
Urban ethnography—a method of studying urban culture and organization first hand
through participant observation and non-participant observation
Suburbanization—the growth of low-density, single-family residential communities on
the outskirts of the central city—thought to produce homogeneity-people searching for
anonymity—exchanging community for privacy
Empirical—replying on or providing evidence based on observations or experiments
Suburban environments did not directly determine the behavior of its residents—
reduced the dominance of the Chicago schools human ecology within the study of urban
Community and social network
o Ethnographic focus on solitary relations in very specific localities—ignored the
existence of weaker social ties, non-clustered ties, and ties to those at a
distance-technological changes contribute to decentralization of social relations
o Social network analysis---the study of social structure based on an analysis of the