Community: A Critical Response by Joseph R. Gusfield

By Joseph R. Gusfield

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36. 11 Peter Las lett, The Wo1'ld We Have Lost, New York and London, 1965. 9 10 p. ~)1 . ' 2 THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF COMMUNITY Concepts as Existential Types Introduction Where shall we look for community in contemporary human associations? Can we distinguish some human aggregations that are communal and some that are societal? Modem social organization, as Durkheim pointed out, is composed of a multitude of different and diverse groups, organizations, subcultures, and associations. Since our concepts denote a quality of human relations rather than a quantity of population, we need to describe the kind of social bond existing both within the groups and associations of a society and between them.

The following states the viewpomt considered here: It follows directly from the concept of modernization as a process of contention between modernizing and retarding elements ... that the societies we call underdeveloped stand at various stages along the way from traditional to modern status. 10 It is noticeable that this is again the community-society ~aOO &1 irn Mana 'lOCie! ~io cr\ti ~f CONCEPTS AS IDEOLOGIES 19 trast but noW emerged under different ideological cOnpices. Where nineteenth-century theorists bemoaned the aU;sage of the past, the modernization theorist finds the ~~appearanc~ of tradition a.

The communal socIal system must retreat and give way before the onslaught of the modem if modernity is to be realized. In its present use, the concept of "community" is again used as an ideological counter to the existing institutions and cultures. In Tonnies and many of the writers of the tum of the century, it was a world that was lost, whose disappearance highlighted the tragic and demeaning character of the modem. In its use in modernization theories, it appears again as a counter-concept-but now as the world to be eradicated, the impediment to the future well-being of the poor.

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