Type of communities (was: [ox-en] Multi-local societies and Global Villages)
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006 08:50:24 +0200
Hi Michel, Franz, all!
Last week (12 days ago) Michael Bouwens wrote:
Here's the explanation on the concept of Multi-local Societies:
By Ezio Manzini, http://sustainable-everyday.net/manzini/?p=9
"Cosmopolitan localism, intended as the result of a particular
condition characterised by the balance between being localised
(rooted in a place and in the community related to that place), and
open to global flows of ideas, information, people, things and
money. This is quite a delicate balance as, at any time, one of the
two sides can prevail over the other leading to an anti-historical
closure or, on the opposite side, it can lead to a destructive
openness of the local social fabric and of its peculiar features.
Creative communities, cooperative networks and cosmopolitan
localism are, as it has been said, the building blocks for a new
vision: the vision of a sustainable society that can be defined as a
multi-local society. I.e. a network of interconnected communities
and places, at the same time, open and localised.
Small is not small and local is not local
In the framework of the multi-local society the dominant ideas of
`global' and `local', and the ones of `large' and
`small' are challenged. In fact, for its nature the
multi-local society is an highly connected world. And, in this kind
of world, the small is not small: it is instead (or it can be
instead) a knot in a network (the real dimension of which is given
by the number of links with other elements of the system).
Similarly, and for the same reasons, the local is not local, but it
is (or it can be) a locally based, cosmopolitan community. In this
conceptual and practical framework, the multi-local society appears
as a society based on communities and places that are, at the same
time, strong in their own identity, embedded in a physical place
and open and connected to other places/communities .
I wholeheartedly agree. [...interested readers raising their brows
;-) ...] However, I'd define "community" differently. [...ah, there is
the however ;-) ...]
For this I'd like to refer to a post I put to [ox-de] some years ago:
This is an excerpt of a (German) article about online communities. A
very bright article I think and still very relevant. It destroys some
myths about online communities such as self-organization, equality and
creation of knowledge in such online communities but not to dismiss
the whole concept but to base it on a more scientific foundation.
For this there is given some criteria to assess whether one can talk
of a community. From this I'd like to quote (and translate) the
paragraph about common identity:
*Common Identity*: Dieser Ansatz konzentriert sich als
/psychologische/ Theorie auf das Erleben der einzelnen
Community-Mitglieder. Je stärker sich alle Beteiligten mit dem Forum
beziehungsweise seinen Funktionen identifizieren, umso stärker ist
auch die dort ansässige Gemeinschaft ausgeprägt. Eine solche
kollektive Identifikation ist unabhängig von konkreten Beziehungen
zu anderen Gemeinschaftsmitgliedern.
[This approach focuses on the experience of the single community
members as a /psychological/ theory. The more all participants
identify with the forum or its functions, respectively, the more
the community located there is shaped ("ausgeprägt"). Such a
collective identification is independent of concrete
relationships to other members of the community.]
So zeigt sich etwa, daß MUD-Spieler sich aufgrund ihrer
Begeisterung für das Mudden als Gemeinschaft empfinden und etwa von
den Chattern abgrenzen. Das MUD vermittelt ihnen dabei sogar ein
stärkeres Gemeinschaftgefühl als ihr Heimatland, das heißt, die
MUD-Identität ist stärker ausgeprägt als die nationale Identität.
[For example MUD [MUlti player Dungeons - a type of online role
playing game] players feel as a community because of their love
for mudding and they set boundaries for example to chatters. The
MUD gives them a stronger feel of community than their home
country, that is that the MUD identity is stronger than their
Auch Religionsgemeinschaften oder wissenschaftliche Communities
werden ja durch gemeinsame Werte und Ziele zusammengehalten, nicht
durch alltägliches Zusammenleben und Zusammentreffen aller
Mitglieder, das in romantischen Gemeinschaftsvorstellungen zu
Unrecht immer wieder als notwendiges Kriterium angeführt wird.
[As well religious or scientific communities are held together by
common values and goals and not by day to day living together or
meetings of all members, which in romantic visions of community
again and again but falsely is listed as a necessary criteria.]
In particular the last paragraph seems to me absolutely relevant here.
IMO communities are centered around common goals. In this regard it
doesn't matter whether the people live in the same location or not.
Free Software projects - which often also can be characterized as
communities by the criteria mentioned - for instance have the widest
thinkable distribution. In fact they are probably the most globalized
production environment seen so far.
So I'd agree that being a member of some community is a good thing -
but for most communities this has nothing to do with the question
where the people live.
I'd also agree that the communities are knots in a network. The people
being in multiple communities at the same time - which is BTW
impossible when communities need to be localized - *are* the threads
in this network which form a network between otherwise unrelated
I mean this is what we witness on a daily basis in Oekonux: Some
people here are also part of other communities and they bring with
them what they find there to have a fruitful growth of ideas and
concepts here which then they adapt and bring back to the other
community. And I'd think that only very few of these other communities
are localizable in the sense above.
If communities are thought as not necessarily local then it is also
easy to have communities which care about big infrastructure, global
environmental problems or sophisticated production processes. The
classical Oekonux example in this regard is that there could be a
community which cares about the ozone hole.
Frankly I'm amazed how all these facts can be ignored in favor of
those localized communities. IMO either localized communities need to
be embedded in a bigger picture or a theory based on localized
communities must seek to destroy all non-localized communities to make
reality fit to the theory. I'd strongly prefer the first.
Mit Freien Grüßen
Please note this message is written on an offline laptop
and send out in the evening of the day it is written. It
does not take any information into account which may have
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Contact: projekt oekonux.de