Publication Details

Patulny, R. 2004, ''A thousand points of spite' - crowding out the bridging community', Revisioning Institutions: Change in the 21st Century, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA).


Now as in the past, studies of community are lacking in their analysis of structural factors that influence communities. Theoretical analysis of community lacks regard for structure and agency. I suggest that Bourdieu's theory of practice and Honeth's ideas concerning recognition provide mechanism and motivation to address the structure and agency conflict, and inform more sophisticated studies of community. Communities are best served when the practices by which they operate are generalised and inclusive in nature, thus maximising interaction between people of difference and multiplying pathways of recognition. Such communities are characterised by norms of generalised trust and networks of bridging social capital. However, corrosive global structural forces - materialism, inequality and changing household dynamics - pose challenges to such communities. I propose that such forces 'crowd out' generalised bridging capital in favour of more particularised bonding capital. Bonding, premised on rational-calculation, is easier to maintain then widespread norms of trust when agents are set adrift from structural support. A few societies provide the support - in the form of universal welfare - to counteract the global structural forces. The rest are subject to increasing bonding and particularisation, and a loss of the recognition that stems from maintaining a tolerant, open and trusting community.

Link to publisher version (URL)

The Australian Sociological Association Conference