What is Community?

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Community is a group of people who share a sense of place. This sense of place may exist in a geographical location or be based on virtual space. Regardless of location, communities share common experiences and values. In the social sciences, communities are defined by the relationships among their members. These relationships are the foundation for the community’s existence.

Relationships

There are several different types of relationships in a community. Some of these relationships are symbiotic, while others are parasitic. In symbiotic relationships, individuals from one species benefit from the presence of another species, and the host species benefits from the presence of the parasite. The relationships can be beneficial for both parties or harmful for one party.

Relationships are integral to co-design projects and can determine the nature of the research process. In particular, relationships influence access to research participants and the topics studied. These relationships also inform the design process and sensitise researchers to the lives and practices of community members. Relationship building can take place through formal and unplanned community-led activities and meetings.

Commonalities

Commonalities are the fundamental characteristics that make up a community. These characteristics include common people, common law, and the basic structure of thought. Community members seek to maintain and preserve these characteristics to avoid conflict and preserve their identity. Commonalities between different communities are essential for maintaining communal harmony. These differences, however, should not be construed as a reason to exclude others from the community.

A community is like a living organism. The individuals within it each have a unique sense of belonging and community. These individual perceptions may differ from the definitions used by researchers and community engagement leaders. Furthermore, these individuals may change their sense of community members over time. This may have implications for the kinds of activities they participate in.

Interactions

A centralized control structure does not necessarily determine interactions between community members. However, changes in the population of a community can affect the pattern of interactions. For example, population growth may lead to dramatic changes in the structure of interactions in the community. This change can be predicted with minimal assumptions about the population.

A community’s stability depends on the mix of interactions between members. Increasing the mix between unilateral and reciprocal interactions enhances community stability. For example, a community with a high degree of mutualism has a higher level of stability than one with a lower degree of mutualism.

Relationships between members

Relationships among community members play an important role in physical, psychological, and social well-being. They can be conceptualized in several ways, including social cohesion, social capital, and social networks. Social cohesion is the strength of relationships within a community and the sense of shared solidarity among community members. Strong relationships and social cohesion are indicators of a country’s social capital in some countries.

There are many different types of relationships between members of a community, ranging from parasitism and predation to commensalism. Some of these relationships benefit both parties. For example, barnacles on whales give the whales greater mobility and access to more diverse feeding opportunities. Other forms of reciprocity include chemical commensalism, in which one organism produces chemicals that benefit the other. Likewise, inquilines occur when one organism lives in the habitat of another species. Other forms of mutualism and interspecific competition exist between animals, and each can benefit or hurt the other.

Resiliency

Community resiliency can be measured in several different ways. The NCA on Resiliency measures five aspects that contribute to a healthy community. These elements include positive emotions, positive relationships, achievement, and meaning. A community must meet all five pillars of well-being for it to be highly resilient.

Resilient communities are socially connected, have accessible health systems, and can respond collectively to disasters. Community resilience is also measured by a community’s capacity to recover rapidly from major disturbances. Using this concept, communities can take proactive measures to protect and promote their health. They can do this by improving access to social services and community health. By focusing on the community’s health, residents can be better prepared for emergencies and build better day-to-day systems.

In addition to being resilient, communities can create social equity for their citizens. Business plays a key role in building communities that are adaptable and resilient. The BSR Conference 2015 will explore the role of business in creating resilient communities.

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