Wellmans Community

Wellmans Community

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In the article, “The Community Question Re-Evaluated”, the author Barry Wellman suggests that the change in nature of community is inevitable. Many people are stressful about changes their communities are going through such as loneliness, alienation leading to a “war of all against all.” They would often compare their modern times community to of their pre-industrial predecessors. However, inhabitants of contemporary societies should have less to worry about than their ancestors with ‘respect to the basics of human life.’ Instead comparing contemporary crime and political violence rates with the past, we should seek to gain deeper understand of how our community changes- “how the large-scale structure of social systems reciprocally affects the small-scale structure and contents of interpersonal relations within them.” The social changes in large-scale systems are suggested to be associated with the Industrial Revolution which affected the structure and operations of the community. Social commentators suggested that large-scales faced the impacts of industrialization, capitalism, imperialism, bureaucratization and technological developments which then dripped down onto the interpersonal relations. They noted that the large-scale reorganization of production has created new opportunities for community relations. For example, industrialization had reduced poverty and that working-class home ownership would heighten neighborhood communal bonds. Although the analyses are well debatable, Wellman believes that community may have changed in response to the pressure, opportunities and constraints of large-scale forces.
The complexities in the discovery of past and present communities led analysts to realize that the term community, often demonstrated in a neighborhood, is not confined to neighborhoods. By 1970s, analysts had expanded the definition of community beyond the boundaries of neighborhood and kinship solidarity and argued that the ‘essence of community was its social structure and not its spatial structure. They then began to treat “community” as “personal community” and defined as a network of significant, informal community ties. The transmutation of community into social network has helped the persistence of communities even when the neighborhood traces are faint.

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