The term "community" is used extensively in almost all areas of our lives. It is used in both our common, everyday language and also by professionals, politicians and corporations. We frequently hear about "community care", "community revitalization", "community service" and many other references to community. Yet, while everyone seems to have a fairly common understanding of what is meant by "community" it eludes a clear and comprehensive definition.
The word "community" is derived from Latin and has been used in the English language since the 14th century. It refers to both the development of a social grouping and also the nature of the relationship among the members. The term is most often associated with one or more of the following characteristics:common people, as distinguished from those of rank or authority;a relatively small societythe people of a district;the quality of holding something in commona sense of common identity and characteristics.
The concept of community was further developed in the 19th century to contrast the dynamics and relationships of residents within a local setting to that of larger and more complex industrial societies. It is related to the terms commune (French) and Gemeinshaft (German), in terms of denoting particular kind of relationships. Relationships within a community were thought to be more direct, holistic and significant than the more formal and abstract relationships with the larger society.