Provisional Operational Definitions of Society vs. Community vs. Culture

I want to simplify — and one thing that bugs me time and again are concepts related to the definition of society vs. community (and also these two vs. culture). Ideally, it would be great if these terms could be defined in a way that is more or less congruous with the “common language” meanings of the terms.

Well after much thinking about it, I have decided to simply go out on a limb, take a leap and put “my own” ideas “out there” for discussion — so here goes (and sorry if the lines are a little wishy-washy):

  • Society: A group of people who can reach some kind of common understanding with each other without being previously acquainted

  • Community: A group of people who are already acquainted — and in particular who have something in common which is the basis of their “acquaintance” with each other (this may something as informal as simply knowing each other’s name or also as formal as being cosigners on some form of contractual relationship — e.g. being members in the same club, and thereby likewise subscribing to the same membership rules)

  • Culture: A group of people who are already acquainted — and in particular engaged in some shared goal-oriented activity (again, this may be informal — e.g. artistic co-creation, such as jazz or dance performance, cooking vegetarian food, etc.; or it may be more formal — e.g. clarifying the ethical principles of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., or investigating socio-political frameworks such as multi-party democracy, dictatorship, socialism, communism, etc. or other activities which people not only subscribe to but also seek to improve in the sense of cultivating these phenomena).

Do these definitions work for you? Where do you see limits or possible problems?

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One Response to Provisional Operational Definitions of Society vs. Community vs. Culture

  1. brian says:

    I think these ideas are quite interesting and certainly do a long way toward offering a more inclusive understanding…

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