For most of us community “feels good”. Throughout history people have created diverse communities from virtual to face-to-face. They are today best characterized as a group of people that have common interests, purpose or needs. Communities may also be dramatically repressive and vulnerable, but they have largely provided a safety net when things go wrong, a place to grow and maintain social relationships throughout the life cycle. These key elements for wellbeing, evident across cultures and time, were visible during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The pandemic lit up the positive role of community interaction in our lives, as social life became more local, increasingly neighbourhood- and virtual community centred.
Communal thinking is also challenged by unpredictable environmental events, transient lifestyles, cultural mixing and the trade-off between belonging, and the seeking of personal identity, leaving some communities increasingly characterized by loneliness and isolation. Community vulnerability, as well as supportive factors such as open communication, neighbourhood interaction, storytelling and group positive appraisal, forms the basis of effective communities. Street, ethnic and mainstream community examples of personal leadership, innovative local/neighbourhood groups, and/or governmental stimulation can create hope, communal action and create political power. If we can protect the positive functions of community in its various and changing forms, we will assist with improving quality of life and wellbeing for many in our dynamic world.
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What is community?
- Zygmunt Bauman (2001) Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World. Polity Press.
Why community matters
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The vulnerability of communities in today’s world
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Family and community
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The impact of external forces on community cohesion
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Building flourishing communities from the inside out
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Achieving flourishing communities
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