From commodity to community in nursing homes: an impossibility?
Ever since Erving Goffman (1962) discovered unexpected social bonding and elaborate social networks among the ‘inmates’ of total institutions, researchers and policy makers have used ‘community’ to refer to those very persons (nursing-home residents, in-patients in psychiatric hospitals, and others incarcerated for diverse disabilities) believed to be ‘its principal victims’ (Hazan 1995: 211). The concept ‘community’ was built upon Tönnies's (1955/1887) concept of Gemeinschaft, which depicted homogeneous groups integrated through multiple social linkages and face-to-face relations. By the 1970s, scholars of community studies called into question the conceptual underpinnings and potentially negative implications of the concept. They reframed ‘community’ as a concept that addressed more refined questions concerning locality, and reserved the term for the social networks that reflected group interests and provided symbolic evidence of identity formation or belonging (Davies 2003). Nonetheless, the term retains prominence for the institutions that provide residential care for people with various disabilities.(Accepted February 1 2006)
c1 Central Michigan University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Anspach 144, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859, United States of America. e-mail: email@example.com