Any community across the globe is a wealth source of organized and deep rooted knowledge, which is anchored on diverse interactions of various socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural attributes that occur over time. Every community is distinctively identified by its traditions, values and norms. The main components which define a community or culture to which any given individual belongs include the family life, ideologies and learning. Therefore the community plays a significant role in nurturing the individual. Whereas a community may help to shape an individual, it may also in some circumstances act to hold back the individual from attaining his true identity. Community’s knowledge is its property that plays a spectacular role in shaping the identity structures of its members, (Waseem, 2008, “community, identity and knowledge”). This paper seeks to define the community and describe how one can assume identity in community.
A community describes a group of persons in social interaction within a geographical area and having one or more additional common ties, (Waseem, 2008, “community, identity and knowledge”). Members of a community derive plays a shared understanding of the norms, beliefs and values which have been established by the particular community to which they belong. Put differently, it is within the community that individuals undergo social interaction with each other thus fostering the process of identity formation. The family plays the most important role in the process of identity formation right from early childhood. It can be rightly said that the first socialization process of the individual occur in the family. A child receives basic teachings from the family members regarding the world around him. This basic knowledge for the child develops his understanding and appreciation of the values and ideas in society and therefore become the pillar upon which the child’s identity is build, (Sigelman & Rider, 2005: 303).
Interaction is the most basic factor through which one can assume identity in any community. In essence, the interaction of sub-identities of a person through his or her membership in dissimilar communities is vital in shaping his learning, thinking and perception. Furthermore, it forms the nature of experiences, value preferences, and the general knowledge arrangements. Interaction is an intricate and complex system of socialization but is significant in shaping the identity of a person. Acquisition of knowledge through different social contexts culminates into the formation of a distinct individual identity. Identity is the person’s awareness that he belongs to a certain social category or group (Sigelman & Rider, 2005: 303).
Knowledge is acquired through socialization in communities. A person knows that he belongs to a specific community only if he has knowledge of the norms, values, and shared understanding of that group. He becomes aware through a learning process; he receives information stimuli from the external physical environment, and the awareness of the social context, experience and exposure to the classification system of the community (Barnes, 2005: 152). In general, an individual acquires awareness through interacting with both the physical and social environment, (Sigelman & Rider, 2005: 303).
In conclusion, a community is a group of persons in social interaction within a geographical area and having one or more additional common ties. A community plays a vital role in developing sets of norms, beliefs, values and shared understanding. The knowledge that is shared amongst a group of persons is essential in identifying members of that group. Interaction is thus the main platform through which an individual can assume identity in a community, (Waseem, 2008, “community, identity and knowledge”).
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Sigelman C.K & Rider E.A, (2005) Life-Span Human Development, 5th Ed, Belmont: Cengage Learning.p.303
Waseem, A, (2008) Community, Identity, and Knowledge: A Conceptual Framework for LIS Research, Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal
Volume 18, Issue 1, March2008 accessed on 30/9/2011 from http://libres.curtin.edu.au/libres18n1/waseem_article_mbw2_Ess&Op_rev.pdf