A community is a social unit wherein its members share a common network. Common networks that unite communities include networks of values, interests, goals, and kinship.
This loose definition is necessary in order to encapsulate all the different types of communities that exist.
However, it is common to classify communities into the following categories:
- Communities of place
- Communities of interest
- Identity-based communities
- Communities of need
- Communities of practice
Below are 21 different communities fitting into each of the above categories.
Communities of Place
1. Urban community – An urban community is a place-based community that has its own unique structure and needs. Urban communities are densely-populated and often rely upon peripheral communities to provide food and materials, while they offer services to other communities in return.
2. Suburban community – Suburban communities are less dense than urban and often have high numbers of families and children. Their interests may be focused on family planning, education, and cost of living pressures.
3. Rural community – Rural communities are often oriented around agrarian lifestyles and have unique concerns such as access to healthcare and services despite the fact they’re far from service providers. They also tend to, on average, have a higher degree of conservative political leaning due to the need to rely on self and neighbor over government.
4. Neighborhood – A neighborhood may be a small subset of any of the above communities of place. It refers to a small group of people who live in very close proximity and may share local services such as shops or a local elementary school.
5. Suburb – Suburbs are bigger than neighborhoods but smaller than cities, and may have a local government uniting them or shared interests in a particular hospital or small business community that serves the whole suburb.
6. National community – Benedict Anderson referred to nations as ‘imagined communities’. They’re groups of people who will never see all of their compatriots face-to-face but have a shared sense of identity and purpose built up by mass media and governmental institutions that promote a nationalistic worldview.
7. Global community – The global community encompasses everyone in the world and
Communities of Interest
8. Subcultures – Subcultural communities cohere around common beliefs and interest that are distinct from the beliefs and interests of the dominant culture in which they live. For example, we could think of the surfing community, gaming community, and so on.
9. Countercultures – Like subcultures, countercultures sit within a dominant culture but are distinct cultural groups. But unlike subcultures, countercultures are oppositional to the dominant culture. For example, hippies, the Amish, and cult groups are countercultural community groups.
10. Sporting communities – Sporting communities cohere around a common interest in a shared sport. They often develop their own practices, events, and phrases. For example, the global football community share the football world cup as their peak event.
11. Religious communities – Religious communities cohere around spiritual beliefs and practices. They may come together to worship, but also act as networks of support groups around the world. For example, if you move cities, you will be able to connect with branches of people within your religion in the new city who can act as your new support network.
12. Virtual communities – A virtual community gets together online. In the digital age, people increasingly form identities and support networks online based upon common interests rather than through nationalistic and regional identity features.
13. Ethnic group – People with a shared ethnicity have common history, practices, cultures, and beliefs. This leads them to naturally coming together to engage in their cultural practices as a coherent community group.
Communities of Need
14. Disabled community – As with all communities of need, disabled people come together to share their common experiences, advocate for their shared needs, and support one another.
15. Deaf community – A subset of the disabled community, the deaf community is a well-known community who come together out of shared need and interest. For example, deaf people can come together because they share a language – sign language (although there are many!) – and there is even a distinct deaf culture with shared social norms.
16. Elderly community – We see elderly communities coming together to share a common experience of aging. Often, these communities both allow for shared medical resources and a joyous sense of active community-building in the final quarter of life.
17. Migrant and expat communities – Migrants often come together in new countries to support one another. They may have shared language and culture, but also shared experiences, that draw them together.
Communities of Practice
18. Professional community – Professional communities are groups of people who share a profession or expertise. These groups often advocate for their profession, set minimum standards and engage in shared professional development and ongoing learning.
19. Guilds and associations – Guilds and associations are similar to professional communities, but may not necessarily be connected to a profession. They may be connected to a hobby such as woodworking or birdwatching.
20. Business communities – Generally referred to as ‘the business community’, this is a group of people who advocate for businesspeople and entrepreneurs. They may share experiences running businesses and advocate for legal changes that make running a business easier, less bureaucratic, or more efficient.
21. Economic communities – Economic communities are larger-scale than business communities and linked to nation-state economies. It may be, for example, APEC – the Asia-Pacific Economic Community – which is essentially a trade bloc with lowered tariffs and standardized trade agreements. Similarly, we have the European Economic Community.
The concept of ‘community’ is broad, and the above examples of communities are only a handful of the great number of social units that exist in society. Humans tend to come together in social units to network, share experiences, share resources, or achieve power in numbers.
Increasingly, as globalization makes the world more interconnected, we are developing new types of communities in new and interesting ways. As we’re able to globally communicate and connect using the internet and new media, people form their identities through more dispersed groups than ever before.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]