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Community and a suburban village

Clark, David Bernard (1969) Community and a suburban village. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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It has been a popular tendency for many decades now to lament the passing of the once socially close-knit and highly personalized, occupationally homogeneous, comparatively self-contained and independent residential settlement once known to English people. Initially this cri de coeur was focused on the gradual disappearance of the rural village under the impact of the industrial revolution of the late 18th and 19th Centuries which brought 'the thunder of an ocean of change, a change tragic indeed, since nothing has taken and nothing can take the place of what has gone.' More recently, as old cities have been steadilly torn down and rebuilt and 'new towns' have become commonplace features of the English landscape, it has been the disintegration of the urban Bethnal Greens and Barton Hills that has in its turn produced nostalgia and regret. It is not surprising that many people, including a number of experienced sociologists, have taken the disappearance of these close-knit residential settlements, be they rural or urban, as synonymous with what Stein calls 'the eclipse of community.' It has come to be assumed in both popular and professional thinking that a sense of community, apparently so obvious in the past, is fast slipping away and that every effort must be made to arrest this insidious disintegration of social life. Often without much questioning sociologists and town planners, amongst others, have spent many long hours seeking to discover ways of restoring or at least retaining that community spirit believed to have been a priceless possession of old settlements in town and country. The purpose of this thesis is to test two hypotheses concerned with the intensity, expression and territorial focus of community. Hypothesis I This is the less exceptional of the two. It is that over recent years notable changes have taken place in the expression and territorial focus of community Hypothesis II This forms the major hypothesis. It is that, despite important changes in the expression and territorial focus of community, a sense of community has not been lost and, in some cases, its intensity has increased. The thesis is divided into three main parts, as set out below :- 1. A theoretical introduction to the study of community with definitions and empirical operationalization of those concepts to be used in the case-study. An examination and critique of difterent approaches to the study of community (Chapter I) sets the stage for the subsequent description of the approach adopted in the thesis. This approach ('the essential approach' to community study) necessitates a definition of the social system (Chapter II), and of the physical environment in which it is set (Chapter III). It also necessitates a definition of the concept of community itself (Chapter IV). This concept is empirically operationalized and indices whereby its intensity can be assessed are described (Chapter V). 2. The case-study The particular methods of research employed in the case-study are described (Chapter VI). The validity of the two hypotheses set out above is tested by examining the life of the residents of a given social aggregate (Woodhouse, Yorkshire), taken as a microcosm of the social system as a whole, at two points in time (1912 and 1966), to see whether the expression, territorial focus and especially the intensity of community have changed tor them during this period (Chapter VII and Chapter VIII). 3. Observations and implications The relevance of the case-study to the wider field of community studies is discussed (Chapter IX). Finally, questions raised by the concepts employed in the case-study and by the empirical investigation itself are dealt with (Chapter X).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Other academic unit: Department of Social Studies
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.698119
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 08:59
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 08:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21852

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