In order to answer this question it is essential that we first attempt to define what we understand by the term "community." A good starting point may be Crow and Allen's assertion that community represents "a convenient shorthand term for the broad realm of local social arrangements beyond the private sphere of home and family but more familiar to us than the impersonal institutions of wider society" (1994:1). In other words we can perhaps suggest that a community can be characterised as consisting of a number of social networks within which people form and maintain enduring relationships "what Bell and Newby" (1982:4) call an "on-going system of interaction." .
The links between individuals that provide the basis for these networks are infinite: we could cite, for example, living in the same street, attending a particular church, working for the same employer. We must also recognise that that they may transcend geographical boundaries, a concept reflected in the work of Roger Ahlbrandt (1984:2). He uses the term "liberated community" to describe the way in which people reach out beyond their immediate neighbourhoods in forming social attachments. Ahlbrandt states that there is no one model of community that can be applied universally, and in this is undoubtedly correct. What we can perhaps say is constant is the importance that membership of social networks has for each of us in living our daily lives: we are endowed with a sense of belonging and security through being able to communicate with, and gain the support of, like-minded people.
As a summation of these ideas of community we can point to the work of Willmott (1986 ch.6, cited in Crow and Allen, ibid: 3), who proposes three main areas of commonality between individuals. In "territorial community," the connection is shared residence of a geographical area; in "interest community," people are linked together by common interests or characteristics such as ethnic origin, occupation or leisure pursuits; and in ˜community of attachment', people's sense of community "spirit" or values is the binding factor.