Definition and Characteristics of a Community


Definition and Characteristics of a Community

A rural area is an open swath of land that has few homes or other buildings, and not very many people. A rural areas population density is very low. Many people live in a city, or urban area. Their homes and businesses are located very close to one another.

We studied rural development in Nigeria. In this article, we are going to study rural communities. The following unit objectives indicate what you should accomplish at the end of this unit. At the end of this article, you should be able to explain what a community is, describe the community life process · identify the characteristics of a community.


Definition of a Community

A community is an aggregation of families habitually living together within a definite geographical location, more or less rooted on the soil they occupy, living in a state of mutual interdependence, supporting some basic social institutions and having some measures of political autonomy in relation to other communities.

The term “community” has been used equally to denote something both psychological and geographical. Psychologically, it implies shared interests, characteristics or association as in the expression “Community of interests”, “the business community”, “the academic community” or “a farming community”.

Geographically, it denotes a specific area where people cluster. However, the sociological definition of a community combines the two meanings and denotes a people within a common locality having shared interests and behavioral patterns.

Such shared interests and behavioral patterns show mainly in the areas of:

1. Production, distribution and consumption of good

2. Socialization

3. Social control

4. Social participation

5. Mutual supports.

The community is particularly characterized by the organization of these functions on a locality basis. A locality group, the community is made up of families living together within a definite location and interacting on a face-to-face basis.

However, in large communities, all members may not know each other to interact on a face-to-face and effective manner, but members interact in the use of common institutions and facilities, and maintain a consciousness of oneness through the sharing of common values, norms, traditions, prejudices and sentiments.

Farm people live in village communities; some of these are small while others are large. In either case, they interact and affect each other’s behavior in a manner which is different from the way they affect those who do not belong to these communities.


5 Characteristics of a Community

Definition and Characteristics of a Community

1. Shared Bonds of Fellowship: This is a feature that distinguishes some people from others. It may be typified by the demand of obligations from citizens and the conferment of benefits upon them.

2. Set Standards or Patterns of Behavior: This refers to the psycho-social situation that arises when people perform mutual actions and reactions upon one another. Such interaction is incessant, and no citizen can wholly cut himself off from such social relations.

3. A Common Culture: This is the aggregate of the social, ethnical, intellectual, artistic, governmental and industrial attainments of a community, and by which it can be distinguished from any other community.

4. Shared Territory: A community occupies a territorial area, within which its members live and develop the ways of life that give the community the different features that tend to make its identity easily recognizable.

5. Shared Beliefs: Shared beliefs are nurtured and cherished by the people in the development of their common ideals, objectives, attitudes and values.


Community Life Process

This is the process in the life of a community, by which the people plan and act together for the satisfaction of their felt needs.

Its primary purpose is to bring about change for better living, through the willing cooperation of the people. Its aims are:

1. To educate and motivate people for self-help

2. To develop responsible local leadership

3. To inculcate a sense of citizenship and a spirit of civic consciousness

4. To initiate self-generative, self-sustaining and enduring process of growth

5. To introduce and strengthen democracy at the grassroots level

6. To enable people to establish and maintain cooperative relationships

7. To bring about gradual and self-chosen changes in the life of a community.

Its significant components are:

1. Agriculture

2. Irrigation

3. Education-including literacy

4. Rural industries

5. Health programmes

6. Housing programmes

7. Social welfare programmes

8. Youth programmes

9. Women’s programmes

10. Cooperative

11. Training of village leaders

12. Employment programmes.


Conclusion on Definition and Characteristics of a Community

This article has introduced you to the concept of a community and the process in the life a community by which people plan and act together. It has also exposed you to the various characteristics of a community.

You are expected to have learnt from this article, the meaning of a community, the life process of a community and community traits or characteristics. It is expected that you would be able to comprehend some issues in rural communities.

Also read: Political Institution in Nigeria: Meaning, Features and Rural Political Participation

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