Psychological Sense of Community: An Australian Aboriginal Experience
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Sense of community (SOC) is central to an individual's psychological wellbeing (Sarason, 1974). Eleven participants, mainly from the North West of Western Australia, took part in semistructured interviews investigating Australian Aboriginal notions of community and SOC. Five key themes emerged from the data. These included: kinship structure, language groups, skin groups, education, and knowledge. It is argued that the themes of kinship structure, language groups, and skin groups described the Aboriginal social structure whereas the themes of education and knowledge described the maintenance of a SOC. The impact of this conclusion on the theoretical understanding of a psychological SOC was discussed using analogies to Tönnies' (1957) distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.
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