Ch. 6: The Social Construction of Community
“The social construction of community” looks inside communities. Not only how communities run but how people’s lives look within a certain community. In the previous chapters, communities were seen as structures with changing sociological situations. The previous chapter also looked away from the idea that community was made up of relationships with the people inside the communities. Throughout the chapter 6, it examines what types of relationships exist in different communities, and how communities react to outsiders.
Social constructionism is a way for sociologists to analyze communities. Social constructionism is the idea that societies and knowledge are created by actors within the system, rather than having any inherent truth on their own. Once community is understood to be essentially contested, that is when the attention can be shifted to the ways in which it is defined and deployed by social actors themselves. Within the social constructionist approach, people within the community are looked at as active, and that they have shared interests about their social reality. From that, sociologists thought it was important to understand society from their perspective. This shifts the focus from facts and casual relationships, to the way community members see their social worlds. This is important, because I believe that community has more depth than the facts that make the community. When looking into community the most important factors is the members within that community. Without their beliefs and their interpersonal relationships with one another, there would not be a community.
Studying the meaning dedicated to community among particular social groups involves the use of qualitative methods. Rather than gathering statistical information about social and economic structures, sociologists are gathering information on the cultural analysis of a community by using participant observation. With the rising use of qualitative methods it has increased the interesting in using certain ethnographic community studies. With the use of ethnographic community studies, it has generated a new insight that has made researchers look at the meaning of community in a different way. Before the research that was done on communities, it was researched to explain how people saw their sense of community as a social reality. Now researchers aim to provide information on the particular ways of life, or explain in great detail a set of social structures within a community. An example is the work of Anthony Cohen, who is a social anthropologist that is opposed to the deterministic assumption that communities are conditioned by economic or political forces. From Cohen’s perspective, what makes a community...