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what holds a community together?

I've sort of been toying with ideas relating to human needs recently and I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on what holds a community together.  Are common values necessary?  Rituals?  What do people get out of being in a community?  Does this relate to the elements that contribute to the health of the community?

What is the relationship between healthy communities and a healthy society?  What is required for wildly divergent communities to work together in a common society?

What are examples of communities that you are in, and what do you get out of being in them and contributing to them?

Damn, there was some other question I wanted to add but it slipped my mind.  Maybe I'll remember it later.
Permalink the great purple 
September 18th, 2006 10:51am
Collective hatred does a good job.
Permalink Colm 
September 18th, 2006 11:00am
Some links:

http://www.reed.com/Papers/GFN/reedslaw.html  - That Sneaky Exponential—Beyond Metcalfe's Law to the Power of Community Building


http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html - A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
Permalink son of parnas 
September 18th, 2006 11:12am
The second link is more what I was going for, thanks.  It's a good article, speaks to my basic questions, but long.  I'll have to read it later.

I imagine social scientists have studied this sort of thing to death.  Maybe I should look for books at the library.
Permalink the great purple 
September 18th, 2006 11:27am
http://feeds.gigavox.com/~r/gigavox/channel/itconversations/~3/21693589/detail1442.html - Ubuntu: Community Building for Human Beings
Permalink son of parnas 
September 18th, 2006 11:54am
At some point it boils down to:
1 - who are we.
2 - who we are not.
3 - what stories do we tell about ourselves to reinforce #1 & 2.

>Are common values necessary?
That is what #1 & 2 speak to.

>Rituals?
#1. In some cases, a shared language helps to maintain community, as Hebrew is used in the case of Jews.

>What do people get out of being in a community?
Humans are social animals. If isolated, we will go insane and break down.

>What is required for wildly divergent communities to work together in a common society?
Here is a hypothetical that might sharpen your question:
Community_A forbids interference with other communities, and forbids allowing other communities to interfere with community_A.
Community_B requires interfering in other communities (we must "save" them, we must give them "freedom" for random values of "save" and/or "freedom").
Community_B starts to interfere with Community_A.
Questions:
1) At what point is it morally correct for the members of  Community_A to kill members of Community_B?
2) The members of Community_B will perceive the resistance by members of Community_A as immoral and/or illegal. Is the resistance immoral and/or illegal?
3) At what point is it morally correct/necessary for Community_C to assist Community_A in preventing (social) violence by Community_B?

For one view of the requirements to "work" together, you could read Tom Barnett's two books: Bluepring for Action, and Pentagon's New Map. Those two books lie at the heart of our interference in Iraq/n. His premise is that we must force, at gunpoint, all non-globalized communities into our modern US-controlled globalized economy. That is the New White Man's Burden™.
Permalink Peter 
September 18th, 2006 12:21pm
> That is the New White Man's Burden™.

It's the new way of social control more like it. There is no way to the stated goal in the era of global guerrillas. Given this irrationality the agenda must be something else.
Permalink son of parnas 
September 18th, 2006 1:50pm
The things Peter says.

Also the thing about common rituals is that they coordinate affective memory. Eating together or being on a crew team together or listening to live music together or even reading forum threads within a day means experiencing the same emotions at the same time, and laying down similar memory associations.

Then, in order to trigger those emotions again one only need store call the community - the people one was with.
Permalink Send private email just me 
September 18th, 2006 3:20pm
the question should be "what tears a community apart?".  humans naturally congregate into communities.
Permalink Kenny 
September 18th, 2006 5:55pm
Er, yes and no. There are always the intelligent sociopaths  ... eg Thatcher's comment that there is no such thing as society.

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=106689

Bart Kosko investigates the border between common and private property in this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0609805673/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/102-3665910-7790562?ie=UTF8
Permalink trollop 
September 18th, 2006 7:06pm
To see how communities hold from the bottom up you can check the 4th chapter of Cialdini's 'Influence' which talks about social proof. It tells about how you tend to do what your neighbour does to how there was an instance of mass suicide.

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond looks is a top down way of seeing it. Like societies that had a head start in food production went on to become more productive, become literate, developed tools and colonised preliterate socities, etc.

Though a lot of literature contains good insights we need to put them in perspective. We should see when one factor will overpower another.

A community will common values. There will be rituals. But when will an economic factor or any other factor overpower the ritual? The widespread use of cars changed whom people considered their neighbours and new rituals got started. Cars mean travel and it would take a lot of your time. It means you are not there to listen to the stories which is likely to hold your community longer. Like travel is made easier, communication was made cheaper because of the internet. But it doesn't take your time or take you to a different place, so, though it is a later improvement, change in communities, I think, weren't as much because of it as it was due to the automobile.

And I don't think anyone has a satisfactory answer for what is required for wildly divergent communities to work together in a common society. If we knew we wouldn't have had the 9/11 crashes.
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
September 19th, 2006 2:21am

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