Conceptualisations and meanings of 'community‘: The theory and operationalization of a contested concept


Resource authors: Graham Crow et al.
Project: Conceptualisations and meanings of “community”: the theory and operationalisation of a contested concept

This Discussion Paper explores conceptualisations and meanings of ‘community’ as a contested concept, focusing on how 21st-century researchers across the world have gone about capturing ‘community’ using a variety of methods. It takes stock of recent theoretical and empirical developments in researching communities, identifying continuities and differences between past and present research. It presents an overview of recent developments in the operationalisation of community, drawing primarily on the 100 works in the annotated bibliography ‘Researching Community in the 21st Century’ (Mah and Crow 2011). In addition to this focus on how researchers have gone about capturing the meaning of ‘community’ in recently-published research, the paper also draws on interviews conducted with a broad range of researchers with recent experience of undertaking research in the field of ‘community’, and on input to the project from members of the project advisory board. In contrast to approaches which distinguish between different types of communities, we explore theoretical, empirical and methodological developments in researching communities which highlight four interrelated and overlapping themes: connection, difference, boundaries and development.

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