[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community

Andrejevic, Mark MAndrejevic at mail.fairfield.edu
Mon Dec 17 11:34:25 PST 2001

A quick response to the company vs. community question...

The question lures us into the temptation of formulating a comprehensive
definition of community, which is a fascinating task in itself, and one that
I'm going to dodge. 

It's intriguing to recognize that we're at the point where the question
becomes a difficult one. Still, an obvious (?) distinction jumps to mind: A
company's goal is quite simply defined: to turn a profit. A community's
isn't so simply defined. 

If a company can meet the goals of profit and efficiency by instilling a
"sense of community", then it will likely attempt to do so. If not, then it
certainly won't. The fact that a community doesn't have the ability to make
the same decision (without losing its status as a community) starts to get
at a distinction between the two. The company is a means to an end, but
isn't a community, in certain important respects, an end in itself?

Consider the example of honor among thieves: isn't the idea here that even
when it may be more profitable to do so, the thieves don't turn on each
other, that there is some (community?) value that transcends profit? In this
sense, a band of "honorable" thieves might be considered to be more of a
community than a Wall Street firm. Is it possible to conceive of a company
as an end in itself?

As background I'm wondering if the well-worn Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft
material might be of some use to the student who got this discussion going.
It's not the same distinction as community, company, but there might be some
useful parallels.

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