A tribe, a community, a social/cultural/religious sphere; any
group of people with common interests or goals. May also be people who
simply choose to live in proximity to one another for some reason,
usually pertaining to the availability of certain resources.
If we're talking about communities as in a neighborhood in a city,
then we have a grouping by proximity to resources. People may choose to
collect in one neighborhood over another because of the proximity of
water, food, work, bus routes, schools, parks, 7-11's. Levels of
crime, cost, taxes, and other less tangible things may also be viewed
generally as resources, which factor in when considering communities
as grouping by resource proximity.
Another, more interesting type of community, is grouping by
interests or values. Everything2 is an excellent example of this type
of grouping, since it brings together many people interested in
voicing their thoughts and opinions, and in hearing what others have
to say. We have geeks, nerds, philosophers, and people who just like
a good debate. Lots of diverse
interests, but a binding interest in sharing knowledge and
experience. Interest type communities are everywhere. Clubs are a
prime example of this type of community.
Communities also exist to support. Things like organized religion,
support groups, and group therapy exist so that people who have
experienced something in common (such as cancer) can come together and
share their experience. In the case of religion, and many other
support oriented groups, leaders help their followers deal with
everyday struggles and help give people some common belief structure to
base their lives on. People who belong to such communities find that
by exchanging experiences and ideas with each other, they are able
feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, that
they are not alone in the world.
This kind of community, while largely positive and beneficial, can
also have negative effects. In the case of religion, especially in
cult type organizations, we see individuals stripped of their
identities and made into sort of drones; people so devoted to the
cause dictated by the leader of the community that they are blind to
everything else in the world. In the case of mainstream organized
religion, or other groups, the organization may prohibit certain ideas
or practices by the membership. The effect of this on the community
may be evidenced in different ways. It may serve to enforce the values
of the community, or it may be a move simply to keep people within the
organization, or to keep the organization seemingly infallible. A prime
example of this would be the punishment of Copernicus for asserting that
the Earth was not the center of the Universe, as was the view of The
Church at the time.
Communities may be formed by any commonality between
individuals. People who live in a certain country might describe
themselves as members of a community, a community of patriots, or
maybe just a community defined by citizenship. The idea of community
can be loosely applied to any grouping of people.