Communities and Collective Identity

There is a nice post by Dave Snowden about Aggregative or emergent identity? Rethinking Communities. Quite an interesting read, and thought provoking, too … Something I have been thinking about, for some time. One important thing that Dave highlights …

My take on that issue by the way is that while all communities are networks, not all networks are communities.

This rings a bell. We network a lot with folks we like to interact with, but that couldnt necessarily be called as a community. Whats the difference? Basic difference … Shared goal. Which is why, networks that we find on social networking sites, and networks we find in organizations should not be equated, and should be studied as two distinct identities. This distinction derives from the goal … OK, so we could argue that a lot of times, communities dont necessarily share the same goal. But then, more often than not, they do. Whether mutually decided by the community, or imposed by the environment, the goal is there.

And this, to my mind, is where quite a few of us are erring. The dynamics of communities, regardless of the parallels, are different within and outside the organizational context. And, this organizational context is what makes the difference. Communities within the organization, for example, need some kind of organizational support. This is a paradox of communities that I have written about earlier. Its important we stopped seeing this as a paradox, though, and consider this an important part of the creation and sustenance of communities in the organization.


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