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City, Community, Nation, State

Participation and Spectacle

Judith Kapferer

The events and sites of a national holiday (17 May in Bergen, Norway) are the grounds from which to draw out meanings of nationalism and tradition, and analyze ideologies of egalitarianism and individualism in a social democratic welfare state. My project has two aims: to open up and deconstruct aspects of the material and symbolic life of the city, and to engage an examination of patterns of local and national community life in relation to shifting evaluations of localism and nationalism within the a changing state formation. Bergen can be thought of as a case study of social order and control, with women, children, and reverence for home life, highlighted in the town’s celebrations. The symbolism of the day discovers community and state in a difficult relation between domestic communities and nationalist ideology in the maintenance of governmentality, a relation mediated by the city itself.

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Which community for cooperatives?

Peasant mobilizations, the Mafia, and the problem of community participation in Sicilian co-ops

Theodoros Rakopoulos

The literature on cooperatives often conceptualizes cooperativism as an organized effort to embrace community participation. Through the analysis of agrarian cooperatives in Sicily that were formally established to counter the Mafia and by ethnographically exploring the notion of community for cooperativism, this article aims to problematize this idea of cooperatives as “community economics”. It proposes an anthropological approach that critically analyzes divisions of labor and the internal factions' divergent concepts of “community”. In Sicily, workers in “anti-Mafia” co-ops recognize a sense of community and “way of life” in Mafia-influenced mobilizations outside the cooperative environment, contrary to the co-op administrators' legalistic views of community. The article illuminates how the fact that often co-op members draw on different ideas of community can lead to contradictions and tensions, especially as there are different social realities underlying those ideas.

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Egalitarianism and Community in danish housing Cooperatives

Proper Forms of Sharing and Being Together

Maja Hojer Bruun

The Danish concept of faellesskab (community) is explored in this article. Faellesskab covers different kinds of belonging and notions of proper togetherness in Danish society, ranging from neighborhood relations at the local level to membership in society at the national level. In investigating the ideals and practices of faellesskab in housing cooperatives, the article shows how people establish connections between these different scales of sociality. It argues that the way people live together in housing cooperatives, in a close atmosphere of egalitarian togetherness, is a cultural ideal in modern Denmark. The more recent commercialization of cooperative property has, however, caused concern. While some believe that faellesskab can still be practiced in the small enclaves of autonomous cooperatives, others fear that this ideal is threatened by economic inequalities.

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Anthony Glendinning, Ol'ga Pak and Iurii V. Popkov

The study looks at young people's situations in small communities in Siberia against a backdrop of socioeconomic and rural-urban divides in post-Soviet Russia. Focusing on the end of compulsory schooling, the study looks at the fit between young people's accounts of their circumstances, aspirations for the future and feelings about themselves, as well as implications for mental well-being. A mixed-methods approach is adopted, including preliminary fieldwork, a large-scale survey (n approximately 700) and in-depth interviews (n approximately 90). Situations and well-being in rural areas and small towns in Novosibirskaia oblast' are compared with life in the city of Novosibirsk. There is stark segmentation by locality. In small communities, the household 'copes' along with the young person in shared goals and understandings and in aspiring to get 'an education' as a means to secure employment and a 'comfortable' life beyond subsistence. Most households locally share the same situations. Almost all imagine continuing their education and leaving their home communities, dependent on family resources and networks. Horizons are limited to towns in the region, or perhaps the city, seen as a place of possibilities but also risks. Beyond the rural household, the collectivity of peers represents another key resource in negotiating and maintaining self-worth. Neither individualism nor the reach of 'global' culture is evident. Young people are embedded in the 'local', but despite their situations and poor prospects, these do not affect their sense of themselves. If anything, profiles of mental well-being and, certainly, self-worth are better in rural communities compared to the city.

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“Because we are the only ones in the community!”

Protest and daily life in poor South African neighborhoods

Jérôme Tournadre

This article is based on research conducted in various South African cities, in contact with organizations involved in demonstrating against poor living conditions. It aims to grasp these collectives outside of their interactions with the political sphere, by moving away from the traditional definitions of a “social movement.” The protesters are here examined in terms of their relationships with their immediate surroundings: the neighborhoods. The point is thus to emphasize the continuities that may exist between protest and daily life. Indeed, one may find elements in the ordinary and the everyday that shed light on some of the logics that structure mobilization and certain practices of protest.

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The incinerator and the beach

Community, activism, and the "Big Society" in a Sussex town

Elizabeth Harrison

This article interrogates the complex ways in which “community” is constructed in a Sussex town. It contributes to long-standing debates in anthropology about the meaning of community, considering the relevance of these to current policy agendas of localism and “Big Society.” The article opens with an account of apparently strong community resistance to changes induced from outside. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research, it goes on to argue that the ways in which people relate to this community are complex. The extent to which individuals engage in more or less formalized group activity and how this intersects with class, education, and mobility are important aspects of this complexity. The article finds that as some groups become more professionalized, processes of exclusion are consolidated: those who become most able to effect change ironically become distanced from the community they seek to represent.

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Listening to the Troubled Waters

Ethnographical Work as a Reciprocal Activity

Jaana Kouri

The history of Lypyrtti, an old pilot village in the southwestern coast of Finland, is for many villagers a story of depopulation of a vital community during the last fifty years. In 2005 the villagers of Lypyrtti expressed their interest in collecting the oral history of their village. This material is gathered, edited and released in the context of research on the topic of 'narrated environment', which draws attention to the interdisciplinary methods and theories of the practices of place making

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Community Citizenship and Community Social Quality

The British Jewish Community at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

David Phillips

Issues of loyalty, membership and belonging are pertinent to all multicultural societies and are particularly crucial for recent migrants and members of other minority communities in that they are faced with a variety of choices in organising and representing themselves vis-a-vis the majority community. Many of these issues have been discussed in the context of debates on citizenship, and particularly in relation to forms of differentiated citizenship. This paper develops and exemplifies the notion of community citizenship in analysing the strategies taken by members of migrant and other minority communities in dealing with these issues. It is argued here that in some circumstances – particularly in times of large-scale immigration – minority communities can optimise their social quality by undertaking activities normally performed by government agencies. An example is presented in relation to the way the British Jewish community dealt with the influx of Russian and east European Jews at the turn of the twentieth century. Some possible lessons for contemporary analysis of minority communities are then briefly discussed.

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Bernard Matolino

In classical African communitarianism, individual rights have tended to be accorded a secondary status to the good of the community. What is prioritised are the duties and obligations the individual has to the whole as opposed to the entitlements one can expect to derive from a community qua individual. I seek to show that this view, by its own standards and assumptions, is erroneous in framing rights as secondary to the good of the community. I attempt to show that individual rights are an inherent component of classical African communitarian accounts. Further, I seek to argue for a non-communalist view of African communitarianism which takes into full account the multiple factors that constitute modern African communities. Such a view, I suggest, will avoid the unnecessary dichotomisation of rights which has become synonymous with the classical African communitarian account.

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Richard Westra

All communities of practice must face questions relating to the material economic foundations of future sustainable societies. David Graeber, Karl Polanyi and Karl Marx each have produced typologies of possible types of economy, synthesised as: (1) the principle of individual reciprocity, (2) the market principle of capitalism, and (3) the planning principle of the state. I apply this synthesis to recent proposals for community change advanced by Bill McKibben and David Korten concerning economic scale and the re-localising of production and consumption sundered by globalisation, focused on the local exchange and trading system (LETS). The operationalising of LETS draws upon Adam Smith’s view of markets as face-to-face exchanges of goods taking place in small morality-bound communities. Smith, McKibben and Korten conflate two different meanings of the term ‘exchange’. To understand the role LETS may play in future sustainable economies in communities of practice demands treatment of this problem.