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Title: The social construction and reconstruction of community.
Author: Bateson, G.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3451 1931
Awarding Body: University of Central England in Birmingham
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 1996
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Community is a complex term whose usage within sociology has ranged from being a key idea to being dismissed as irrelevant. At the same time as its virtual dismissal by sociology, community continued to have widespread usage within everyday language and as an adjunct to social policy. Its ubiquitous nature and the lasting power of the concept were evident at the outset of this research and created a number of contradictions that were considered worthy of further exploration. This thesis surveys sociological approaches to community and relates the career of the concept to changes in the political and economic context. A new approach is suggested which captures both the dynamic, kaleidoscopic nature of the concept at any one time and the layered, archaeological nature of its development over time. This provides a way out of the impasse of traditional sociological approaches to community. The approach proposes that different conceptualisations of community can be constructed through specific fragments of meaning being differentially articulated to produce various constellations of meaning. Partial fixations of meaning, within any one particular context, and the existence of common elements allow a description both of the uniqueness and generic nature of the concept. This provides a model for the conceptualisation of community and this has been applied to ideal type descriptions of community and to a number of well-known community studies. Empirical explorations of the conceptualisation of community were undertaken at CastleV ale, Birmingham. Conceptualisationso f community were recordedf rom the various perspectives of residents, local workers and local media. These were related to patterns of historical development and to recent political and economic restructurings. Different stakeholders' approaches to community were related to the time of the estate's construction (1960s), the time of settlement and adjustment (1970s), the time of reduction in state social intervention (1980s) and the time during which the estate took on Housing Action Trust status (1990s). Different and overlapping conceptualisations of community were explained using the approach already developed. From this it was possible to describe ways in which the wider context interacts with day-to-day lifestyle practices through representations and understandings of community. A loose typification of community at Castle Vale has been developed. Taking the discussion further allowed a device to be developed for the description of various conceptualisations of community, and allowed a framework to be developed within which different conceptualisations of community have been located. This work has allowed a reassessmenot f the position of community within sociology at the present time. It identifies those areas of momentum that are re-establishing community on the political and social agenda, suggests that the time is now right for sociology to reformulate a more adequate approach to community, and asserts that the approach developed aids moves towards new theoretically-informed ways of conveying the complexities of life at a local level within a more globalised context. It is a community study more appropriate for this age and is part of the enterprise of developing more sophisticated approaches to community.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Housing estate communities; Stakeholders