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Community and Territorial Belonging

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

The author conducts an analysis of the theoretical dimensions of territorial belonging mainly as linked to identity in a broad sense and to community in a specific sense. The initial hypothesis is that belonging is an active feeling of attachment to something outside of self and that this something is made up of at least three elements: territory, values and social-relations. The author investigates belonging at five levels, with increasing explanatory power, allowing for its reconceptualisation. While in a closed community belonging is strongly infused with a territorial component, with values and rules and with social relations, as communities open up there is a progressive weakening of the value component and social-relations component. There remains, now unique and specific, only the territorial component of the community, and its features, however, tend to be symbolic (of spaces), emotional and sign-related. In more general terms the primary source of territorial belonging is the “cosmosemics” of the community space ‐ this term referring to the organisation of space as if to a coordinated whole of characteristics of an absolutely “true” and “necessary” universe. We may thus speak of urban, mountain, maritime and lowland cosmosemics, and so forth.

Affiliations: 1: University of Trieste, Institute of International Sociology of Gorizia Via Mazzini, 13, 34170 Gorizia Italy, Email:


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