Pre-Doctoral Fellows’ Publications

Structure, culture and community: The search for belonging in 50 urban communes.
Stephen Vaisey

September 3, 2006.

Driven by the popularity of social capital theories, the concept of community has enjoyed a renaissance in sociology. Yet much research in this area relies on exclusively “structural” thinking, attributing group identification to mechanisms like the arrangement of physical space, power relations, or high investment requirements. Often neglected is a strand of theory that attributes gemeinschaft to shared moral order and culture. Using data from the Urban Communes Project, this paper directly tests the influence of both structural and cultural mechanisms in producing the the experience of community. The results show that while both structural and cultural mechanisms are correlated with high levels of gemeinschaft, the evidence supports the existence of shared moral order as the most likely proximate mechanism. Further analyses using a modified probabilistic form of Ragin’s Fuzzy Set Analysis, however, illustrate how culture and structure combine to sustain — or inhibit — the experience of community. Download PDF »