Urban communities

Looking again at my learning contract and theory of community to make changes on it. So now I’m reading Delanty’s e-book ‘Community‘ Chapter 3 on urban communities. (thank technology and the internet for electronic resources!)

In it, Delanty refers to the sociology of Georg Simmel, who established the foundations of urban sociology by emphasizing the significance of small groups (Delanty, 2009: 39). He talks about the notion of the city as a platform for new group formations, which arose from the idea of the city as an open structure where various social relations, forms of belonging and human creativity are built and enhanced. Simmel’s perspective of conflict is that it is not necessarily harmful to integration; rather, conflict can be the basis for integration, leading towards stronger identities within groups, as well as the affiliation of various affiliations that is not dependent on common values (Delanty, 2009: 39).

Moreover, one of the dominant themes in urban community is the defence of the community as a result of external threats (Delanty, 2009: 41). Barry Wellman argues that community are relatively small groups based on mutual interdependence and common forms of life, whose foundation is a sense of belonging based on shared experiences, a common language, kinship ties, and a sense of inhabiting a common spatial lifeworld (Delanty, 2009: 41).

In addition, Delanty talks about how social movements can give rise to new expressions of community (Delanty, 2009: 48). From participating in social movements, individuals can discover common interests, from which collective identities can emergy. He refers to Manuel Castells, who argues that urban social movements are processes of purposeful social mobilization. According to Castells, urban social movements have three main goals:

  1. urban demands on living conditions and collective consumption,
  2. the affirmation of local cultural identity, and
  3. the conquest of local political economy and citizen participation

(Castells, 1996, cited in Delanty, 2009: 48)

These goals can be combined in different ways to create a societal impact. The importance, however, lies in the meaning that is produced by the existence of the movement rather than its explicit achievement, for the community. Here, meaning emerges from the conflicts of interests of the different groups in resistance of the biased interests of capitalism, statism and fundamentalism (Delanty, 2009: 48).

All these ideas are, I think, very relevant to the community that I will be discussing in my documentary – the SLAM community which emerged from the independent music community in Melbourne, as a reponse to the new liqour licensing laws that were threatening the sustainability of music venues, which are important as well as sentimental to them as ‘homes’ for performing their music (e.g. The Tote).

Hmm.. ok. Going to finally edit my learning contract now!

Delanty, Gerard (2009) Community (2nd ed.) Taylor-Francis e-library. (link from RMIT e-resources)


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