There are communities and then there are communities

What exactly are they talking about? What do they mean by ‘communities’? It does make a difference.

We are working to help people and local organisations create strong, attractive and economically thriving communities and neighbourhoods. Our aim is to ensure that they are given all the support they need to make the best of their communities and overcome their own difficulties. These are problems like community conflict, extremism, deprivation and disadvantage.

That sounds (mostly) benign and useful. In fact it sounds like what Barack Obama used to do – and in doing realized that he wanted to change more than just local ‘communities.’ People live in (literal) communities and neighbourhoods, and it is good to help those communities and neighbourhoods thrive. But…people also ‘live in’ non-literal ‘communities’ and some of what the communities department does seems to apply to that kind of community – but they’re not clear about it, so their mission statements and lists of objectives are bound to be at least somewhat misleading.

Or, on the other hand, perhaps they are talking only about literal communities on the website, but in that case, the ‘communities secretary’ is doing something very peculiar in setting up a panel of religious ‘experts’ to advise the gummint. Why would that even be part of his remit, if he’s the secretary for communities-and-neighborhoods as opposed to the secretary for communalism? It seems like Animal Control setting up prayer meetings. Superfluous, intrusive, and fundamentally not their job.

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