[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community (Andrew Perrin)

Christian Nelson cnelson at comm.umass.edu
Mon Dec 17 12:46:48 PST 2001

I'd agree with John that _community_ can be used in the way he describes. I
think I do this myself. However, that is not how the vast majority of social
scientists have explicitly defined the term, and that's mostly because
they've bought into the notion that organizations, etc. are essentially
monoliths (albeit perhaps with rough edges). And those who didn't mean to
suggest such have still used this usual definition of the term, thereby
creating confusion at best.

I that John's definition, and particularly the citations I mentioned
earlier, would lead us to argue that organizations, etc. (formal or
otherwise) are phenomena whose existence and nature that do not exist apart
from perception and are perceived due to certain discursive practices.
Formal organizations are no more or less than things we perceive due to
discursive practices that are somewhat different than those which lead us to
perceptions of the existence of an informal organization (e.g., the creation
and use of documents of particular kinds, etc.). Further, these practices
cannot be specified in advance given the uniqueness of discourse contexts
and the reciprocally indexical relationship between discursive practices and

--Christian Nelson

John Daly wrote:

> I wonder is "community" is not a term of convenience, like the word
> "system". I suspect that I use the term "community" to distinguish a
> social group as an object of discussion or analysis, differentiating it
> from the background society. I suspect like "system", the designation is
> effective if the communication
> within the community is stronger than the communication across the
> community frontier.
> Companies, of course, are formal organizations, where someone (else) has
> gone to the effort of designating the frontiers and formalizing some of
> the institutional relationships. Except I work with developing countries
> in which lots of companies are not formal companies.
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