In search of community in Western Australia: A qualitative study of adults conceptualisations of their communities
The College of Community Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society Ltd
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computing, Health and Science
Communities are dynamic, historically determined, and complex, and the topic itself has concerned social scientists for some time (Durkheim, 1964, Weisenfeld, 1996). However, there has been an intrinsic problem in previous research arising from the ambiguity of the concept of ‘community’, specifically, the contradictions concerning its essential meaning. The aim of this study was to determine whether there are other ways of thinking about community without taking on any unwanted connotations of previous conceptualisations from past research. The research was based on the social constructivist paradigm and qualitative methodology was employed. Conceptualisations of the term community were surveyed among 16 participants using semi-structured in-depth interviews. Results were analysed using analytic induction methodology. Participants identified seven interrelated concepts: geographic attachment to place, communality, social interaction, active involvement and participation, family, sense of belonging, and transience. From this research, understanding of the term ‘community’ has been shown to have far reaching implications, which involve influencing the assumptions underlying community development initiatives and programs promoting social change. Furthermore, a socio-psychological understanding of community can help to facilitate the intentional creation of community when and where it is needed.