I want to thank David Brooks of the New York Times for bringing to the masses a reference of social theory - community and alienation theory to be precise - that needs to be understood by our leaders and those interested in making change.
On January 20, his recent column on politics, culture and social sciences presented the concepts of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft.
". . . I’d rely on the old sociological distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. All across the world, we have masses of voters who live in a world of gemeinschaft: where relationships are personal, organic and fused by particular affections. These people define their loyalty to community, faith and nation in personal, in-the-gut sort of ways. But we have a leadership class and an experience of globalization that is from the world of gesellschaft: where systems are impersonal, rule based, abstract, indirect and formal.
See the following link for the full essay. It is a must read!
The basic difference between these two concepts is that one is a more natural order and the other more man-made. In America, neither are mutually exclusive. In fact, if community and alienation theory needs to be updated (as it hasn't been in at least 200 years), it is in that these concepts are not mutually exclusive.
Our country and local communities are rarely homogenous. Nor are they governed solely by any single cultural component - values, beliefs, language or tradition. And, in America we pride ourselves on being a melting pot of people and cultures. It is what it means to be American.
This is one of many social theories that helps insiders and outsiders understand how leaders in positions of power think, act and react. For any leader seeking to make change at any level they must understand that when defining an issue - social frameworks and perspective matters.