Social Imaginaries, Shared Citizen Action, and the Meanings of “Community”

Lyusyena Kirakosyan


Community has been considered a man’s natural home by many thinkers. Nonetheless, scholars, practitioners, and the general public have not yet developed a shared conception of what community means. This article considers some of the different ways that speakers in the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance Community Voices (CV) initiative have conceptualized “community” in their talks. In the relevant academic literature, as in the CV talks, community has been viewed as alternately, place, belonging and practice. I discuss each of these conceptions and analyze them in light of the existing literature, being mindful of the overlaps among them. These conceptions reveal diverse ideas of “community” and the implications of such ideas for grassroots citizen involvement and for social imaginary. By taking a closer look at the link between the imagination and action and applying Taylor’s and Ricouer’s conceptions of the social imaginary, I conclude that the stories shared on the CV stage about local citizen action show how imagination can help us understand how we belong and how we create change through our individual and collective stories. 

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Copyright (c) 2017 Lyusyena Kirakosyan