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1 Introduction: The Problem of Defining Community The question "What is the significance of community in the metro- politan environment?" stemmed from the recognition by the Depart- ment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the municipal scale is too limited a basis on which to deal with the urgent needs of urban America. The department, in effect, had concluded that it would have to work on a metropolitan scale. In posing the question, it sought to obtain both a better understanding of what is happening in urban organization and urban life, broadly conceived, and to gain a better appreciation of whether the neighborhood or local commu- nity continues to serve any significant needs of the urban population. The meaning of community has been greatly affected by the increasing predominance of urbanization as the common way of life for Americans. In the two centuries since the American Revolution, the population has grown from 4 million to over 200 million people. In 1790, perhaps 5 percent of the population lived in urban areas. By 1880, more than 25 percent were urbanized, and one place, New INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF DEFINING COMMUNITY 1

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York, had reached the million mark. By 1920, for the first time, a majority of the people lived in urban areas. Today, three out of four Americans live in an urban setting and the proportion continues to grow. The farm population is less than 5 percent of the total. Of the 20 percent still classified as "rural nonfarm," a large portion have been drawn into the expanding orbit of urban centers. Indeed, 95 percent of the population lives within the commuting areas of the nation's metropolitan centers. As the urbanization of modern life has proceeded, the term community has taken on a variety of meanings. A community consists of a population carrying on a collective life through a set of institutional arrangements. Common interests and norms of conduct are implied in this definition. However, be- cause of the many different connotations attached to the word com- munity, many social scientists find the term to be less and less useful. Of the many meanings of community, two continue to be widely used. Traditionally, the rural village or small town has been the model of community..The traditional view has assumed that members of a community are united by sentimental bonds and that an important virtue of community is its contribution to the develop- ment of personal identity in individual members of the group. It is assumed that the village model of a detached and singular residential group exists in urban areas, only in a weakened form. As will be seen, the weight of the evidence points in other directions. Yet, the tradi- tional idea is still popular, and it continues to influence public policy at many points. One use of the word community then is to refer to a grouping of people who live close to one another and are united by common interests and mutual aid. In this sense, a com- munity is small numerically, consisting of, at most, a few hundred people, and the connotation is one of solidarity. On the other hand, the term maybe used in the broader sense to refer to any population that carries on its daily life through a common set of institutions. In this sense, it may apply to a popula- tion aggregate of any size, for example, one in which the members participate in the division of labor within a particular socioeconomic system. The emphasis, in this instance, is on the interdependence that stems from specialization and exchange. Whether used with the first meaning, in a micro sense, or with 2 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF METROPOLITAN AMERICA

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the second meaning, in a macro sense, community commonly refers to a territorially bounded social group. The geographic area may range from a few neighboring families on a single street to a sector of the city in the case of a micro community, and from the local municipality through the metropolitan area to the nation in the case of a macro community. As a territorial reference, the term tends to be open-ended. It also should be noted, however, that community is used in- creasingly to refer to interest groups whose common activities are relatively independent of location factors. The source of the com- mon interest may be artistic or scientific, commercial or govern- mental, religious or ethnic. Obviously, the importance in urban life of these and many other different interest groups is growing. The multiple meanings of community reflect the changing life styles that result from the ongoing processes of urbanization. The pattern of human transactions from which a sense of community derives is growing in scope and complexity and changing in content. Technological advances over the past century are the main source of these changes, and improvements in transportation and communi- cations appear to be the most critical and strategic. Improvements in transportation and communication facilities modify the costs of and opportunities for human interaction, the pursuit of common interests, and the conduct of collective enter- prise. They influence the pattern of societal activity and provide the milieu for the emergence of common interests. As transportation and communications change the significance of time-space, they tend to influence: 1. The number of people who can live together, for example, the sizes of groups, how extensive a territory can be included in local commerce 2. The variety and abundance of available materials 3. The residential land use patterns that develop in settled areas 4. The extent to which division of labor can take place 5. The spread of new ideas 6. The extent of economic and political centralization 7. The stability or instability of a social unit INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF DEFINING COMMUNITY 3

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As transportation and communications have improved, the complexity of society has increased. This increasing complexity has occurred at several levels during this century. These levels include: 1. Increase in individual mobility. On a daily basis individuals circu- late over a wider area. They have access to a wider range of facilities and groups. The significance of proximity declines. 2. Territorial expansion of urban institutions. Industrial and commer- cial activity is distributed over a wider area. Residential develop- ment is dispersed. Governmental services seek to respond to the needs of a more diffused population. Adjacent rural areas are drawn into the orbit of the metropolitan region. 3. Growing interdependence among all urban settlements. As capi- tal and wealth, information and knowledge accumulate, large- scale institutions develop that are national and international in scope. These institutions make large investments that have major consequences, both intended and unintended, for the process of urbanization. At the same time, a multiplication of functional links among individuals and firms takes place. As investments, informa- tion, institutions, and individuals become more integrated, there is a tendency for towns, cities, and metropolitan areas to lose their unitary identities. All increasingly interconnect in an integrated, national urban system. The continuing growth of the economy's service sector in rela- tion to industrial production also imparts new characteristics to urban life. The service industries now account for over half of all employ- ment. Some service activities (for example, computer centers) may be tied less to particular locations than industrial activities. Other services may require central locations within urban settlements. In either case, the location, density, and composition of the urban population may differ from previous patterns. The knowledge indus- tries, a major source of economic growth within the service sector, depend on a national and international information system. As these industries reinforce the communications and educational role of met- ropolitan areas, they increase the interdependence of such areas. Improvements in transportation and communications also pro- vide for a growing diversity in urban society. Since America's popula- 4 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF METROPOLITAN AMERICA

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tion has been drawn from many nations and cultures, American society can be termed pluralistic. Even though immigrants have accepted urban styles of behavior and thought rather quickly, ethnic differences have persisted and provided a basis within each group for common interests. At the same time, social mobility and rapid com- munication have provided and continue to provide in greater and greater measure, the opportunity to experiment with new modes of thought; new forms of religion, family structure, music, and art; and with new life styles. The pattern of interests and activities associated with the various stages in the family life cycle is also changing. Finally, of course, a growing number of scientific, technical, and professional groups are organized around one or another functional set of interests. Many of these groups are loosely organized on a national scale; few have strong attachments to a particular place. In sum, there is increasing ambiguity in the term community because of the increasing size of urban areas and complexity of urban life. Individuals participate in a number of interest groups and move considerable distances to take advantage of urban opportuni- ties. And to a great extent everyone shares a common urban culture. Early in the century, when city limits could be rather clearly demar- cated, the country came up to the city's edge and the city began. This is no longer the case. In place of a rural-urban dichotomy, all areas are drawn into the orbit of metropolitan regions. Within these re- gions, collective activities are no longer wholly bound to any particu- lar location. The measure of community is not so much how close together people live, but the availability and cost of timesaving means of communication and transportation. The primary focus of this report, therefore, is the expanding scale of urban life and the progressive decline of the local neighborhood as a social unit. INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF DEFINING COMMUNITY

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