[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community

Andrew Perrin andrew_perrin at unc.edu
Mon Dec 17 05:47:48 PST 2001

Hmmm - well, the concept of 'community' certainly is a very hot one, and
one for which no widely-accepted definition
exists. "Communitarians" (e.g., Amitai Etzioni and others, probably
including Robert Putnam) would probably exclude companies from their idea
of "community," but it's never clear exactly why; they seem to see
community as being a sort of nostalgic, small-town thing. There are of
course lots of other uses of the word: "community" as physical social
space (as in "Welcome to the community of Chapel Hill"), "community" as
social-but-not-physical space (online communities), "community" as
identity-based interaction (the Catholic community, the African-American
community), and "community" as an opt-in, opt-out sort of group (as in
administrators' references to "the college community" or "utopian

All of these do seem to belong to the "third sector" (non-market,
non-state), and that does suggest that there's something about community
that separates it from companies. But then you have to wonder whether
company towns (e.g., Levittown) can't really be "communities."

All of this, I suppose, is just to suggest that your student probably
won't find many pat answers in the research on "community".


Andrew J Perrin - andrew_perrin at unc.edu - http://www.unc.edu/~aperrin
 Assistant Professor of Sociology, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
      269 Hamilton Hall, CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 USA

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