Egalitarianism In Anthony Cohen's Symbolic Construction Of Community

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Anthony Cohen, social anthropologist first introduced his idea of symbolic construction of community in 1985. In this book, Cohen looks at community, and the lack of a proper definition for this. He also takes a close look at boundaries, and how they in turn form communities. Cohen also examines symbols along with many other crucial aspects on this topic. Cohen uses the Chicago School experiment to reinforce these ideas, and he dispels some myths about the experiment. Community, has many meanings. The definition I think most appropriate to this essay would be ‘A reasonable interpretation of the word’s use would seem to imply two related suggestions: that the members of a group of people (a) have something in common with each other, which (b) distinguishes them in a significant way from the members of other putative groups. ‘Community’ thus seems to imply simultaneously both similarity and difference.’ (Cohen, 1985, p. 12) Cohen views community as a system of values, norms and moral codes. Community offers us a sense of individuality among a group of members. Cohen emphasises the structural model of community as a social organisation, which is our primary social outlet. As Cohen says, community is ‘their most fundamental and most substantial experience…show more content…
This is the unqualified attribution of egalitarianism to a community generally results from mistaking the absence of structures of differentiation – say, class, or formal hierarchies of power and authority –for the apparent absence of differentiation as such. How people mark out and recognize status may often be concealed from the superficial ethnographer, masked as they often are, beneath protestations of equality and the paucity of institutional expressions of inequality. This correlates to Durkheim’s work, ‘it is clear that he did not see mechanic and organic solidarities as historically incompatible, but, rather, as contrasted tendencies within society at any one time.’ (Cohen,
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