Blog Postings on Philip Selznick, “In Search of Community”

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35 thoughts on “Blog Postings on Philip Selznick, “In Search of Community”

  1. Hannah Hildahl
    In Search of Community
    I find it interesting how all that we have learned is linking together. There is constant repetition in the articles we read stating similar ideas about the ecosystem, nature, and now the community. For example, Selznick explains how a successful community must have interdependence. Just like the ecosystem and nature, for the community to function all the pieces must be connected and work together for the better good. The article also stated that in order for a community to prosper it must have diversity. Just like the ecosystem and nature, the community must have different groups, roles, occupations, and functions. The community is also elusive. I believe the word community is so elusive because as the Selznick stated, “a community has generic functions but no special purpose.” This loose definition allows people to interpret the word community in different ways. There are common aspects amongst each of the areas we have read about like interdependence and diversity, each one becoming slightly more specific. I liked how the author explained the elements of the community and gave examples revealing their relevance to the word community. Selznick stated, “the bonds of the community are strongest when they are fashioned from strands of shared history and culture.” I agree with this point, I think have traditions and similar backgrounds allows the community to join together as one with more ease. I also like the point Selznick made about identities, they are essential to community but can also be destructive. I believe Selznick is saying having an identity is important because it gives people a purpose to join together. But, to be weary of identification because if an identity becomes too important it decreases the sense of a community.

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  2. Jaeyub Han – “in Search of Community”
    According to Selznick, there are many things that are required in order to form a complete community such as autonomy, participation, plurality, and etc. I really found it very interesting how important role a community contains. As discussed during the lecture on Wednesday, Selznick points out that a community does not have any purpose except being a community. Also, Selznick’s essay mentions about how everything is related to each other. In oter words, in order to form a complete community, it is very essential that those elemetns should be related. This concept makes sense a lot better after learning about the econsystem and nature that all living things and plants are related to each other(I also found it very interesting during a lecture that how growing corns in Iowa is not well suited for keeping our nature, or ecosystem. I also found it very interesting that how Americans’ rate of particiipation in bowling leagues is increasing as time goes on but the number of people who play bowling is still the same. This phenomenon indicates that people in the world are less likely to participate in outdoor activities that are made for the community but are participating enthusiastically in communicating with a bigger community online. This essay was very helpful for me to understand the trend and a change of community from the past.

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    • 5 points. Just a point of clarification–Putnam says that the number of people bowling was increasing, but the number of people playing in organized leagues was declining (hence “bowling alone”).

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  3. “In Search of Community”

    In Selznick’s article, “In Search of Community”, he states many pieces of the puzzle, the puzzle of which we call, Community. I write to you now because I want to explain a certain puzzle piece which I truly believe is a big time player. The piece of the puzzle I am going to talk to you about is “The Limits of Gemeinschaft”. Gemeinschaft (community), in the German culture, connotes moral unity, rootedness, intimacy, and kinship. They believe of a community that understands its history, grasps its oneness, but most of all sees every single individual for their Whole Self. Whole Self is a very specific term when talking about a certain individual. To love somebody for their Whole Self means that you do not discriminate this individual for any of his flaws or mishaps. When doing a good deed for this individual, it’s not because you want a reward in return, but rather you do it for the greater good of the community. Religious or not, when the bible states “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:13, New Int. Bible) it truly means love everybody for their flaws and beauties. By doing this, your community will grow closer than ever, a brotherhood one would say. And, if you can achieve this Gemeinshaft mentality on a greater scale (i.e. The whole United States) the more that community succeeds, from there institutions to each individual. Of course there are many other pieces at play in the puzzle but if the community has no interest in bettering their neighbors (meaning any individual) then they will not prosper as a true community.

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    • 5 points. Good points, but do be careful–Selznick talks about the “limits” of Gemeinschaft, one of which is that, really, the emphasis is on the similar/communal aspects of people in community, their oneness, which really does not always take into account the whole person. Individuality isn’t what Gemeinschaft is all about.

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  4. The article “In Search of Community” by Philip Selznick brought up some interesting points about communities that I had never considered before. For one, Selznick states, “It has been said that ‘community’ is a word that ‘seems never to be used unfavorably’ (ibid). That is surely an exaggeration, for the experience of community has many detractors who emphasize its potential for oppression”. This is a compelling point for me since I had always thought of the communities with positive connotations. I never considered communities anything other than groups of people who share happiness, culture, friendship, etc. After reading and discussing this point, my view of communities has broadened as communities are people who share the same values. This group of people could be corrupt, going as extreme as the Nazi Germany “community”. Selznick described communities as having “no special purpose”. I think this statement allows us to interpret the meaning of a community more loosely, and confirm the idea that there are many different types of communities.

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    • 5 points. I’m not sure that Selznick’s idea of communities serving “no special purpose” means that we can interpret the idea loosely; the idea is that a community in its purest terms does not have a special interest (which is why something like the “white supremacist community,” for example, really isn’t a community in Selznick’s definition).

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  5. “In Search of Community” by Philip Selznick touched on several very interesting topics. His section on bowling leagues particularly sparked my interest. I already knew about the bowling league statistics and have actually experienced this first hand. My friends and I have a pseudo-league and each one of us feels more at home when we do activities like bowling because we bond through it.
    The definition of community surprised me quite a bit. I always assumed that a community had a specific purpose, i.e.: military community, law enforcement community. The more I thought about it, it makes sense that a true community is only legitimate when the main purpose is to be a community. ‘Community’ has a connotation as a positive force but after looking at the definition, that has changed. The in-class discussion on how the community is decreasing in our world interested me. I was particularly interested by how there is a systematic change in our social dynamic. Specifically about how houses used to be built with front porches but now they are built with rear decks.

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  6. In the article that we had to read for class, In Search of Community, which is written by Phillip Selznick, there are very many points that are made that I never thought of before. One of these points are all of the elements it takes to have a community. The article has a list of 7 words in it. These 7 words are mutuality, plurality, autonomy, historicity, identity, participation, and integration. I believe with Phillip Selznick that you need all of these seven words to have a community. One thing that is interesting to me, is the fact that community is another one of those words that everyone has different definitions for it. Just like we have learned in this class about ecosystems and home, community is also a word that my definition of it, could be different then anybody else’s definition of it. Both someone else and I would have a different definition of the same one word, but either one of them could work, there would be no incorrect definition of it. A pint that Selznick made that caught my eye, after he talks about the Catholic Community, is when he says “community is a comprehensive framework within which a common, multifaceted life may be lived.”

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  7. Shane
    This article“In Search of Community”was wrote by Philip Selznick which stated various factors and elements that can build a complete and healthy community.In the lecture,we mainly focused on how can we understand the interaction what’s the most significant factors in community.Professor Dean used the example in the article that the good community should make without purpose and provide a new idea connected with this idea that we couldn’t treat someone as an instrument other than people.It is very interesting and profound idea for me.In China,since the education system differences between China and United Stated,this phenomena happened frequently.Since we were children,we’ve been told compete with each other,not only in grade but our physical strength even if our appearance.Consequently,after I arrived at U.S. I realized that U.S. Citizen usually have less wariness for strangers and always greet each other.In our country,people are mostly very alert and distrust strangers.If we could treat each other as normal people and noticed that we all have our own strength and weakness will make our relationship beyond each other become more inmate which is very beneficial.Once we solve the interaction with each other,a good community will become more naturally and stably.

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  8. So last night I went to the Roughriders preseason game and for the first time in a couple of months I felt like I was somewhere I belonged. Despite the differences all of my fellow fans have, we all bond together to cheer on the boys. I have rarely experienced a uniform sense of community as I have at The Stable. Even my time in the military, where it is drilled into us that there is no dividing factors since we are all soldiers, didn’t have such a strong sense of together. In the Army there is a singular mission but it is composed of many smaller missions, rarely are people brought together the way fans come together for the game. As we see further divides and rifts growing in our society, it is comforting in a way that sports can still bring large groups together.

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  9. In layman’s terms, the idea of a community is a singular entity. But the way that Selznick breaks down the concept into different elements allows us to think about the many components that make up the conception of this whole. Autonomy and participation are the first two elements. While both are important, I think they are only the beginning. The third and final element, integration, encompasses the prior two and I believe is a key part of any community. Selznick brings up the idea that police or military communities are great examples for integration. But what would happen if someone or some part had not been properly integrated? The possibilities are endless. Whether good or bad, the lack of integration could change the structure of the the entire community. This is why I believe that integration is the most important of the three elements. Without it, the entire idea of a community changes.

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  10. One of the most interesting things I took away from this reading and discussion was that when defining community, it was mentioned that a community should have no special purpose. It really got me thinking about how often the word is used and how inaccurately used it can be on a regular basis. When the class was asked to discuss an instance or time that they were a part of a community, I could only really remember my time in church, and specifically the volunteer work we did. In church, I constantly heard the phrase “church community”.being used rather liberally. When looking at the use of community in the context of the previously mentioned trait of “having no specal purpose,” it seems to fall apart to me. We were doing volunteer work for an abused woman’s shelter and a home for the mentally handicapped, so we certainly weren’t looking for something in return. That is, unless you consider we were advertising our church on our shirts and pamphlets. So in a way, the “Church Community” is always shooting for some special purpose: expansion. I know this blog post may seem sacreligious and/or completely boring to some, but I find it interesting.

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  11. First I will have to Start off with how highly I enjoyed the piece “In Search of Community” I believe it to be the best definition of community I could even imagine to read all in one essay. Even the essayist starts off stating how elusive the word community really is, as u can see by its casual everyday uses. I really enjoyed and agreed with this essay. My favorite segment of community in this essay if I had to choose one was reading historicity, here Selznick shares that community is strongest when “fashioned from strands of shared history and culture” I personally love this idea. In class when we were prompted in groups to identify a community I presented the idea of the African American community specifically associated with the university and campus life the shared history, heritage, and customs brings those of similar races together as you can see on this campus alone. Even tying in what another group had shared, the Greek life community, which was interesting to me knowing how the African American Community has its own separate Greek life as well as the Latino community at the university of Iowa and schools nation wide. I definitely agree with the idea that history and culture really adds to a community and strengthens it and could connect wholeheartedly with this essay as a whole

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  12. When I first read “In Search of Community” by Philip Selznick I had a hard time grasping his ideas on community. More specifically his idea of mutuality, he says “mutuality cannot be too narrowly focused. It must go beyond impersonal exchange, beyond coordination for limited goals.” I mean do we truly do anything if we don’t believe that some way or another it will benefit us? And if we don’t believe it will benefit us then why do it at all? For example letting the worst soccer player in the city play on your team seems like it will have no benefits to you but it actually makes you feel better about yourself and increases your reputation. On the contrary if letting the worst soccer player in the city play on your team made you feel worse about yourself and decreased your reputation then most people would not let the worst player play. So I have to disagree with Selznick’s idea that a community begins and is supported with “impersonal mutuality” because people seem to only do things that will somehow benefit them one way or another. I believe that a “mutuality” more equivalent to a symbiotic relationship is present in a community, where both parties are benefiting in one way or another in a kind of give and take situation.

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    • 5 points. I think Selznick’s discussion/definition of “mutuality” is pretty nuanced. I think he acknowledges that we always invoke mutuality for some kind of benefit (he says interdependence and reciprocity are important mutuality). But the mutuality can’t be too narrowly focused–that we also need to consider the whole person, not just the one specific we want from someone else. That doesn’t mean total altruism. I think your idea of “symbiotic relationship” actually fits in quite well with Selznick’s definition of “mutuality.”

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  13. I believe that most people know what makes up a successful and efficient community. Philip Selznick’s “In Search of Community” goes deeper into what those qualities are. Reading this piece made me feel proud to live in Iowa City. Iowa City is a successful and efficient community. It has historicity, everyone knows the history of Iowa City – how it used to be the capitol of Iowa, how the University had one of the best wrestling teams. We all connect through our history and respect each other for it, which leads to identity. We are the hawk state, we are loyal to each other. We share an identity that no other community knows.
    We have active participation. We are generally good at voting and our population is steadily growing. Iowa City has a well balance of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Selznick states that, “institutions embody values and enhance integration,” and that, “strong communities are institution centered.” Our institution is obviously the University of Iowa, which is also a successful community within Iowa City. Overall, I think that Iowa City is such a great example of a good society.

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  14. “In Search of Community”

    When I read Philip Selznick’s, “In Search of Community,” it made me think about the use of community in my life. I consider my hometown and its area to be my community. I considered my high school family, my friends, and athletic teams to be communities. But after reading the passage I realized how hard it is to define community and what may appear to be one for me might be something completely different for someone else. Community is a very elusive word to define but the Iowa City community which I grew up in seems to be one of the best examples that I know of and I am grateful to have spent my life here for that. Although I didn’t enjoy the essay as much as previous works we’ve read I did find it interesting that he advocated for autonomy and the need to the individual to be able to differ from the group mentality. Without that ability a community could easily turn fascist and to me parts of the world are turning more and more homogenous with a group mentality that could be very dangerous. That’s one reason why I think the right to protest is key to the survival of a democratic system. Without it, groupthink could overwhelm dissenters and take communities down dark paths.

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    • 5 points. You’ve hit on one of the main reasons I find Selznick’s definition of community so valuable–it’s complexity and comprehensiveness. He makes room for individuality and autonomy–you’re right that without those, “groupthink” and even oppression can result.

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  15. The essay, “In Search of Community” by Philip Selznick, was very interesting. When I first started reading, I really started thinking about my own community. I started to think how it related back to the points that Selznick mentioned about having a well balanced community. Even though, I come from Chicago, believe it or not, the city is very segregated. It’s diverse over here, but, everyone is segregated. For example, the North side is where most Caucasian’s reside, and the majority of the neighborhoods are high and middle class. Whereas the South and West side, it’s mainly African American and Latino’s and are low-income. I come from the South side from a low-income family, and it was hard to stay involved and participate within the community growing up. There were very few resources and activities that could keep a child involved in the community, and hardly any for parents. Although, what I truly believe that has kept my community together and strong, is religion. There are a lot of churches in my neighborhood, and they have done as much as they can to bring all residents together. I honestly believe, it’s hard to identify what type of community Chicago is because it’s very broad, all the neighborhoods in Chicago bring different things to the table. For example, the historicity of Chicago is mainly in the downtown area. Participation is hard if you come from a low-income place. Integration only happens in very few neighborhoods, etc… Although Chicago doesn’t really show a great balance of all these elements, all of its citizens for great pride for the city.

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  16. While reading Philip Selznick’s “In Search of Community,” I was a little confused at first. However, I started to realize that I agree with what most of Selznick says. I think that all of the elements of community that he writes about do exist in and are essential in a successful one. In order to have the strongest bonds, they should be formed from history and culture; a common background to relate with. Members need to participate to help give back to their community and should not have the mindset of “I did something for you, so you have to do something for me now.” People should give back to their community to help strengthen it and help their neighbors, not for their own personal gain. I think that without this key piece -participation- communities would not function or last as long as they should. If members do not participate, you simply have a group of individuals living near each other minding their own business. I personally feel that participation is the most important element of a community. Communities may be able to squeeze by without history or autonomy, but without participation, a community simply cannot exist.

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    • 5 points. I don’t think Selznick necessarily says personal gain isn’t an issue when talks about reciprocity. A strong community involves people who participate not just for altruistic purposes but also individuals themselves know they will need community themselves at some point–it gives us a sense of security living in a society. That’s why Selznick talks about “generalized reciprocity”–you’re right that people shouldn’t think, “I’m going to shovel snow off my neighbor’s sidewalk, and I will expect my neighbor to cut my grass.” The idea is that we realize we need each other in a general sense–we’re interdependent–and sometime we’ll all need our community to support us individually. To expect that, we also need to participate, as you say.

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  17. I enjoyed reading a piece like this especially after reading one like the ecosystem a few weeks ago. This story definitely had facts in it, but it didn’t just state them in a textbook sort of fashion like the Ecosystem, instead Selznick was able to get his points across to us by making his piece full of visual detail. He was able to take information that could be stated in one sentence and write paragraphs about it, as I was reading this I often times found myself imagining everything in my head as I read about these detailed scenes and that really made it more interesting and fun to read. I think he really did a good job of stressing how bonds can make up a system as a whole. Bonds from person to person, between neighborhoods, the environment, animals, etc it all came down to bonds that were held. I think he was trying to stress a lot of the same points as Putnam did in Bowling alone about how we as a society are starting to lose or weaken these bonds as we rely more on technology and are able to think we can do everything on our own. People don’t see the need to go out and seek help, or go out and try help others. We rely so much on technology these days that we find ourselves too consumed to go outside and find good causes and actually try make an impact on society and I think that is very detrimental to these bonds that used to be formed and at full strength at one point in time.

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