In the context of mobility, social identity and belonging, where is ‘community’ – and why does it matter?

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Fagan, Karen M.
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Journal Article
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
community development
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Fagan, K.M. (2016). In the Context of Mobility, Social Identity and Belonging, Where is ‘Community’ and Why Does It Matter? Whanake: The Pacific Journal of Community Development, 2(1), 8-18. Unitec Institute of Technology. Unitec ePress. Retrieved from:
The word ‘community’ is used in many diverse situations. It may be that we move into a geographical community, buy into a product community, are part of a shared interest community, participate in a work or student community, belong to a cultural or lifestyle community, or are perhaps put into a community by those around us. Whatever the situation, the word community comes with a range of assumptions. If we are interested in working alongside communities, it is essential that we take some time to reflect on the value of belonging to communities, and the location of longer-term communities in today’s neo-liberal context. This is particularly relevant in Aotearoa New Zealand today within the currents of individualism, consumerism, globalisation and mobility. Responsible involvement in community development, particularly in the provinces, requires ongoing engagement with the concept of ‘community’, including some of the underpinning values and beliefs that inform people’s perceptions of ‘community’. It has been well argued that proactively building a sense of community increases participation and contributes to a sense of individual and social identity, along with a sense of belonging. However, if these communities do not have a firm foundation over time, what might be the impact on individual, community and societal wellbeing? This question is explored within the context of today’s neo-liberal mobile society, with a particular reference to the social institution of schools, and residential-based communities. As a part of this, the use of place-based community consultations as a strategy for community participation is critiqued.
Unitec ePress
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Unitec ePress
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