Community as Leadership

Community as Leadership

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Gareth Edwards

This book takes a fresh look at leadership through the paradigm of community. Community as Leadership develops leadership thought through important aspects of understanding community, such as individualism, sense of belonging, friendship, social networks, symbolism, liminality, language and ethics. The book also explores more critical and postmodern perspectives of leadership and community and examines themes for future research, as well as suggesting ideas and implications for leadership learning.

Chapter 2: Leadership and a sense of belonging

Gareth Edwards

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Any attempt to pluck ‘community’ and personal relations out of specific contexts is an exercise fraught with difficulties and pitfalls. (Phal, 2000, p. 60). This comment by Phal resonates well with this chapter in so far as how exploring a sense of belonging might give some indication as to the personal relations that make up what we call community. For example, Gusfield (1975) argues that a homogeneous culture has often been posited as the mark of community. He suggests that this is marked out by a similarity in language, moralities and common histories that produce a sense of being; a unique and different people. Similarly, Love Brown (2002, p. 6) indicates that ‘heterogeneous societies use community to cope with exigencies of life’. She posits that larger social entities are made up of smaller communities that enable face-to-face existence that is the heart of human experience and necessity. Moreover, Kanter’s (1972) main emphasis on community is that it cannot exist without some form of strong commitment. Gusfield (1975) appears to describe this as a criterion of common belonging rather than mutual interest.

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