We are members, mostly, of a very small community, though; we may be living in big cities. This is because our interests are circumscribed within a narrow area. On the contrary, we may live in a village and yet belong to a community as wide as the whole area of our civilisation or even wider.
No civilised community, as MacIver points out, has walls around it to cut it off completely from a larger one, whatever ‘iron curtains’ may be drawn by the rulers of this nation or that. Communities exist within greater communities: the town within a region, the region within a nation, and the nation within the world community which, again, is in the process of development.
A community then is an area of social living marked by some degree of social coherence.
The mark of a community, according to MacIver, is that one’s life may be live wholly within it. One cannot line wholly within a business organisation of a church; one can live wholly only within a tribe or a city. The basic criterion of community, then, is that all of one’s social relationships may be found within it.
There may arise some questions such as, in certain condition some people gather for a long period of time, then this gathering will be called community or not? Following three set of questions are given regarding the condition given above. Among these questions first two get a formative answer while the last one, negative-
1. Shall we call a monastery or convent or prison a community in our sense? These establishments are territorially based and they are, indeed, areas of social living. Many, however, would deny them a community status because of the restricted range of functions of the inhabitants. But are human functions always limited by the nature of one’s community? We should be inclined to answer this query in the affirmative.
2. Shall we call immigrant groups, which in the midst of large American cities cherish their own customs and speak their own language, communities? Such groups clearly possess the requirements of community, according to MacIver.
3. Shall we call a social caste, the members of which exclude their fellow citizens from the more intimate social relationships, a community? Here the negative answer is more appropriate because, in order to satisfy our definition, the community group must by itself occupy a particular location. A social caste has social coherence, no doubt, but it lacks the community’s territorial basis.