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What is a Community?
The term community has been derived from two Latin
words Com and Munis which means together and
servicing respectively.
In simple language, community is a group of people living in
the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
By same place we mean any local area having boundaries. By
same characteristic we mean certain qualities or nature which
distinguishes one group of people from others. Meaning of
community can be better understood if we analyze its
characteristics or elements. These characteristics decide
whether a group is a community or not. However, community
has the following characteristics or elements:
(1) A group of people:
A group of people is the most fundamental or essential
characteristic or element of community. This group may be
small or large but community always refers to a group of
people. Because without a group of people we cant think of a
community, when a group of people live together and share a
common life and binded by a strong sense of community
consciousness at that moment a community is formed. Hence a
group of people is the first pre-requisites of community.

(2) A definite locality:

It is the next important characteristic of a community. Because

community is a territorial group. A group of people alone cant
form a community. A group of people forms a community only
when they reside in a definite territory. The territory need not
be fixed forever. A group of people like nomadic people may
change their habitations. But majority community are settled
and a strong bond of unity and solidarity is derived from their
living in a definite locality.
(3) Community Sentiment:
It is another important characteristic or element of community.
Because without community sentiment a community cant be
formed only with a group of people and a definite locality.
Community sentiment refers to a strong sense of awe feeling
among the members or a feeling of belonging together. It refers
to a sentiment of common living that exists among the
members of a locality. Because of common living within an area
for a long time a sentiment of common living is created among
the members of that area. With this the members emotionally
identify themselves. This emotional identification of the
members distinguishes them from the members of other
(4) Naturality:
Communities are naturally organised. It is neither a product of
human will nor created by an act of government. It grows
spontaneously. Individuals became the member by birth.

(5) Permanence :
Community is always a permanent group. It refers to a
permanent living of individuals within a definite territory. It is
not temporary like that of a crowd or association.

(6) Similarity:
The members of a community are similar in a number of ways.
As they live within a definite locality they lead a common life
and share some common ends. Among the members similarity
in language, culture, customs, and traditions and in many other
things is observed. Similarities in these respects are responsible
for the development of community sentiment.
(7) Wider Ends:
A community has wider ends. Members of a community
associate not for the fulfillment of a particular end but for a
variety of ends. These are natural for a community.
(8) Total organised social life:
A community is marked by total organised social life. It means a
community includes all aspects of social life. Hence a
community is a society in miniature.
(9) A Particular Name :
Every community has a particular name by which it is known to
the world. Members of a community are also identified by that
name. For example people living in Odisha is known as odia.
(10) No Legal Status:
A community has no legal status because it is not a legal
person. It has no rights and duties in the eyes of law. It is not
created by the law of the land.

(11) Size of Community:

A community is classified on the basis of its size. It may be big
or small. Village is an example of a small community whereas a
nation or even the world is an example of a big community.
Both the type of community are essential for human life.
(12) Concrete Nature:
A community is concrete in nature. As it refers to a group of
people living in a particular locality we can see its existence.
Hence it is concrete.
(13) A community exists within society and possesses
distinguishable structure which distinguishes it from others.

All communities are dynamic in nature. They act, interact,
evolve and change as a result of larger political and economic
forces as well as internal and external forces. Broadly speaking
there are three types of communities. These are not mutually
exclusive as we all are members of these types concurrently.
For example: I am an older man who likes to walk in the park in
Lajpat Nagar. As I live in Lajpat Nagar, it makes me a member
of that geographic community. As I meet other older men in the
park, it makes me a member of a community of interest as well
as identify. We will find that all of us have several interests and
identities and therefore belong to many communities
simultaneously. At the same time our interests change and so
do identity.

Geographic Community or a Neighborhood

It is the only type of community about which there is
agreement amongstscholars. It has physical boundaries by
which make it distinct or separate, such as a river, a street. In a
town there might be several neighborhoods, each with some
special attributes: caste, religion, rich and poor. In addition, a
neighborhood usually has a diverse population with individuals
and groups occupying different physical space. It is important
to observe who in a village or a section of a city or town, lives
in a cleaner part, and who lives near an open sewer, or who has
more space and who has less; how far or close they are from
the centre of the village; how much they have to walk to get
water etc. It can be instructive in seeing certain patterns of
physical exclusion and marginalization.
Community of Identity
It implies common identifiable characteristics or attributes such
as having in common a culture. By culture we mean: language,
music, religion, customs, etc. Identity can be based on age,
gender, and sexuality. It does not mean that an individual
necessarily identifies with the community to which s/he is
perceived to belong. A woman may not feel any thing in
common with other women except that all women are female.
Community of identity may or may not be geographically
bound. For example, I as a woman identify with women in my
immediate location but may not feel an affinity with women in
Russia, partly because I do not know them or their culture.
Community of Interest or Solidarity
It incorporates social movements such as womens rights,
political party, peace, and environment, saving trees or public
education. A community of interest is present concurrently in
different geographical spaces. Individuals may be connected to
their interest community at the local, and or global level.
Community of interest can be formal or informal or both. In all

cases, individuals become a part of this community voluntarily.

Individual level on involvement may vary from being very
active to being sporadic or passive.
Intentional Community
In addition to the above three types of community, there is,
what observers call an intentional community. In this type of
community, individuals come together voluntarily and are
supportive of each other. Members may share interests as well
as identity and or a geographical location. For example mothers
of young children get together once a week or student form a
study group or retired seniors meet in a local park.

Active community participation is the key to building an
empowered community. In any innovative programme not only
participation of community is a requirement but also it is critical
to the success of that programme. Studies show that
communities with high rates of participation apply for and
receive, more funding than communities with less participation.
In addition, participating communities achieve greater citizen
satisfaction with their community. Adult literacy and education
programs as such require greater participation by local
communities without which the programme stands to loose its
ground. The National Policy on Education (1986) also
emphasized greater participation of local communities.