UNST 220: Understanding Communities
Dr. Martha J. Bianco

Module III Lecture Guide
Part II


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Community, Identity, and Place versus Space

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II.               Community versus Identity

A.      What is “community”?


B.               What does “communal” mean?


C.      Understanding other terms related to the concept of “community”:


ž      neighbor / neighboring

ž      kinship

ž      ritual

ž      secular

ž      face-to-face communications

ž      primary versus secondary groups

ž      individuality


D.      Expanding the Concept of Community


1.      America the Melting Pot


America is “the great Melting Pot, where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming!…The real American has not yet arrived.  His is only the Crucible. I tell you – he will be the fusion of all races, the coming superman.”


--Israel Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 1908


a.      The Browning of America

ž      What does this mean?


b.      Melting Pot versus Stewpot

ž      How is a “stewpot” different from a “melting pot”?


[Refer to graphs regarding economic divisions in Module II, at




2.                                   The Global Community


Imagine a World Village of 100 people, with all the same socioeconomic and demographic ratios that currently exist in the world today.  Click on the links below to see graphs of what this World Village would look like:



ž      ethnicity

ž      gender

ž      race

ž      religion

ž      sexual preference

ž      wealth

ž      housing

ž      literacy

ž      nutrition

ž      college education

ž      computer ownership



E.      Threats to Community


1.   Sociologist Louis Wirth (1897-1952) and the concept of alienation, in Urbanism as a Way of Life (1938)



large population size + density + heterogeneity č


ž      impersonal, superficial interactions, defined by the “pecuniary nexus

ž      a weak and powerless individual identity that is compartmentalized and defined through nonfamilial relationships

ž      replacement of emotion and intimacy with utility and efficiency

ž      depersonalization and alienation



2.    French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) and the concept of anomie, in The Division of Labor in Society (1893)


ž      Definition of anomie.

ž      Read about The Bystander


3.         Atomization


a.      Louis Wirth and definition of “minority” (1945)

b.      subculture

c.      subcommunity

d.      Herbert Gans (1927-) and “ethnicity

*         The 2000 Census and Race

*         Suburbanization as a Threat to Community?

*         early suburbs

*         electric streetcar suburbs

*         automobile suburbs

*         Alice in Wonderland:  Gendered Space

*         Life on the Edge



How would you classify these groups in the US:



“White pride” groups (Aryan Nation)

Mormons (Latter Day Saints)

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered)

PWA (people with AIDS)

Vietnam Veterans

Disabled people

Street people (homeless)

People of color

Parents of children with learning disorders or autism

Cancer patients

Cancer survivors

People who smoke tobacco

People addicted to prescription pain killers

People addicted to illegal street drugs


Jehovah’s Witnesses



Young Republicans


The Religious Right

Native Americans



Deaf people

 Stay-at-home moms

Soccer moms

Homeschooling families

College students





Who are you?



4.  The Other


*   Check out the SPLC’s Intelligence Report regarding hate group activities






Optional Online Readings and Experiences to Explore for Part II of Module III (More to be added later….stay tuned!):



Booth, William. “The Myth of the Melting Pot, Part I: One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History.” Washingtonpost.com. 1998.

< http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm >


Hampton, Keith N., and Barry Wellman. “Long Distance Community in the Network Society: Contact and Support Beyond Netville.” American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 45, No. 3, November 2001, pp. 477-496.  Online at

< http://web.mit.edu/knh/www/downloads/HamptonWellmanABSv45n3.pdf >


Rodriguez, Richard. “The Browning of America.” Public Broadcasting Service Online NewsHour. February 18, 1998.

< http://www.pbs.org/newshour/essays/february98/rodriguez_2-18.html> .


Wellman, Barry (Director of Netlab, a scholarly network studying computer networks, communication networks, and social networks) and his publications about “Netville” at < http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman/publications/publications.html - netville>



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