In biological term, a community is a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. In sociology, the concept of community has caused infinite debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of term. Indeed, one can find 94 discrete definitions of the term even as early as mid-1950s.
Traditionally a community has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The world is often used to refer to a group that organized around common values and social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger then a household. Wider meanings of the world care refer to the national community or global community. Communis comes from a combination of the Latin prefix com– (which means “together”) and the word munis probably originally derived from the Etruscan word munis– (meaning “to have the charge of”).
In the physical world, communities are typically groups of people (a town, for instance) held together by common identity or interest. The same holds true for virtual and online communities in that they, too, are comprised of people with shared identity or interests coming together for a shared purpose.
Definitions of community by different scholars:
- Bogardus: Community is the social group with some degree of “we felling” and living in a given area.
- Kingsely Davis: Community is the smallest territorial group that can embrace all aspects of social life.
- Ogburn & Nimkoff: A community is a group or collection of group that inhabits a locality.
Basically community categorized in following ways:
- Geographic communities: range from the local neighborhood, suburb, village, town or city, region or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities of location.
- Communities of culture: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic group, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilization, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or final aged people.
- Community organization: range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national and international scale.
Characteristics/ Elements of community:
- Sentiment felling
- Large or small scale
- Not artificial
- Regulated by traditional norms, values and customs
- More stable
- Marked by locality
- Small cultural system
Functions of community:
- Formations of the local groups at the local level
- Co-ordination of team at local level
- Regular contract between various communities
- Mobilization of natural resources
Importance of community:
- To protect norms and values
- For peoples’ participation
- For relationship
- For self dependency
- For social network
- For utilization of local resources
- For sense of identity
- For sustainable development
Peoples’ participation is a way, means the acceptance of local people to share their resources equally. It is a process of creative individual/ social involvement by different strata of people (based on cast, ethnicity, gender, region, class etc.) in defining and fulfilling their needs. It is taking of initiative to decide what is to be done. Rural development is the participation of society in a mutual learning experience involving people themselves, their local resources, and external change agents and outside resources. People can only develop themselves by participation in decision and co-operate activities which affect their well being. People are not being developed when they are herded like animal into new ventures.
Arguments of Social Participation
1) Participation is empowering local communities which take long time because it is very hard to convince the local people. Even difficult to make all happy, thus delays the development process.
2) Government and donor agencies do not like to relinquish their power and control over development activities. Thus participation means in a way being exempted from different sorts of development activities.
3) Participation increases the felling of high powerfulness thus it generate lots of expectations.
4) Participation improving the physical environment of the rural poor.
5) Poverty in the rural area is structural and has its roots in the economic and political condition which influences rural peoples’ livelihood.
6) Development programs and projects have largely by-passed the vast majority of rural society.
Types of Social Participation
1) Passive Participation
Society participation by being told what is going to happen or has already happened. It is simply a unilateral announcement by the plan program implemented without giving any considerations to people’s response.
2) Participation in information giving
It is participation in which people provide information regarding their resources, problems, solutions etc. They have to influence on the findings conclusion and recommendations. Those findings are never checked or solved for accuracy.
3) Participation by consultation
Society involves by being consulted in this model. Externals define both problems and solutions and many modify on the basis of the responses. However, externals are under no obligation to give them space in decision making.
4) Participation for material intensive
Participation occurs by providing resources e.g. labor in return of food, cash or other material, incentives.
5) Fundamental Participation
Participation that occurs to meet the pre-determined objectives of the development activities. Mostly through induced organizations.
6) Interactive Participation
Society involves in joint analysis development of action plans and formation of local organizations. Participation seen as a right rather than means to achieve goals.
7) Participation as self-mobilization
Society participates by taking initiatives independently. Contact with externals in developed for resources and technical advice they need but retain control over how resources are to be used.
Importance of Peoples’ Participation
Ø Ensuring sustainability of development programs.
Ø Making the people self-reliance by discouraging the mentality of dependence and paternalism.
Ø Making development more effective and efficient.
Ø Equitable for different section of people.