Adversity and Community

It is clearly times when people are under the most duress that they show the greatest tendency to work together. I clearly remember periods of my childhood when an argument quickly turned into a united defense when a parent walked into the room. People find common ground in their shared struggle.

Homeless people in Buenos Aries, Argentina, are working together to build a better life for themselves. When no one would help them, and when they were thought to be the lowest of the low, they found a way to rely on each other to get the help that they needed, and to start creating changes.

Understanding how people make meaning and create community when those in power or the majority don’t allow them can give important anthropological insight into human culture. This kind of look at making meaning, communities, and communities of practice could be useful to apply to disabled or mentally challenged people, or those with diseases. Understanding how these people work together to create meaning even when they’re not allowed to or supposed to, is an important anthropological look at the world around us. How do people make meaning when they are told they can’t?

Reference: Self-Organization, Integration and Homeless People by Ana Inés Heras

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2 thoughts on “Adversity and Community

  1. This article is a very good example of the communities people are capable of building around them. Too often I feel as though we focus on the selfishness of the individual and the problems it creates within communities than the overall power those same communities have to do good. You mentioned the communities of homeless people that have been formed in Buenos Aires, which led me to think of the communities of indigenous people in Brazil. They have banded together to fight the construction of the Belo Monte dam, creating a large community that enables them to support one another and create change.

    You also raise the interesting question of “how do people make meaning when they are told they can’t?” This is an interesting question to look at in terms of communities but also in terms of inequality. Being prevented from making meaning – one of the most fundamental parts of any culture – is certainly a form of inequality. Your post allows us to see that one way in which people can counteract and fight this inequality is by forming communities and finding support in other people, and the specific ways in which they do so.

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