Community and the Balkanization of social membership

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Although the idea of community opens up possibilities for thinking about agency, sociality and collectivity in the face of austerity, it also has significant limitations. It can reify and ossify collectives in ways that do not align particularly well with complex and fluid social realities. Where ideas of community are adopted popular and political levels, they can result in processes of social purification that demand either assimilation or exclusion. Furthermore, they can lead to moralizing assessments about responsibilities of marginal members of society to engage in ‘good’ community. Finally, they can also limit the scale of social membership and allow those with resources to abdicate responsibility towards those who do not. This commentary notes that the idea of community might be most productively deployed not to understand the resilience of homogenously defined groupings (such as poor/white/British) but rather the ways in which responses to injustice can bring people into redistributional and common cause relationships across demographic and class divides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-81
Number of pages4
JournalDialogues in Human Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • community
  • redistribution
  • social membership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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