Communities & Place

Defining the concepts of community and place is a matter for academic study, and not a very fruitful one at that. As Colin Bell and Howard Newby pointed out in 1974, “The concept of community has been the concern of sociologists for more than 200 years but even a satisfactory definition of it … appears as remote as ever.” The more that we try to define community in our own terms, the more the essence of it eludes us. Definitions of place – a city, town, suburb, neighbourhood, or village – are also imprecise. Even more challenging is the complex interplay of history, culture, architecture, landscape and social psychology that makes up our sense of place and our allegiances to a particular locality. What is already beyond doubt is the skill of the author in writing so much drivel - and there is plenty more.

The relationship of communities to places can also be difficult. As the urban planner, Mel Webber, pointed out a decade earlier in 1963, there can be “order in diversity and community without propinquity”. Webber was writing about the complexity of American cities but his phrase has new relevance in the virtual and on-line communities that have developed on the world wide web, particularly through social websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Despite the problems of defining the concepts, there are literally thousands of studies of communities and the places where they ‘reside’. There are also studies of ‘communities of interest’ which are not bound by localities. More recently there has been a growing interest in on-line communities and the virtual ‘domains’ to which they resort. Much of this work has huge practical value.

Our offer in Future Communities lies in blending this bullshit with our experience of ruining the public services  of local authorities and other local public bodies in order to kid you, the gullible client, that if you part with a wad of notes and employ a failed has-been (who was only ever famous for attempting to get his leg over most of the hapless female employees at Somerset County Council and even arranged a huge payout to one of them in order to buy her silence) then you will, in some mysterious way, improve the lives of citizens by strengthening their sense of community and place. You ought to know that it is total crap. However I have come to rely upon the extraordinary stupidity that pervades those in power.