“Does Community Make Any Sense?” A Semantic Analysis of the Term “Community” Among Albanian Immigrants and Italian Majority Residents


  • Terri Mannarini
  • Alessia Rochira


Bridging Community Psychology and the Theory of Social Representations, the study was aimed at exploring how the concept of community and sense of belonging to various communities vary across diverse ethno-cultural groups (namely, immigrant and native-born groups) and how the meanings and the experience of community affect or are affected by the relationships that each group establishes with the other group. Participants were 30 native-born Italians and 30 immigrants from Albania living in an area located in the south-east of Italy. They participated in an open-ended semi-structured interview, which was analysed using T-Lab software. Results indicated that the concept of community and sense of belonging to multiple communities do vary across diverse ethno-cultural groups and that each group is cross-cut by multiple axes of differentiation, one of which is linked to the experience of inter-cultural relations. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the functions served by the diverse communities affect the representations shared by the distinct sub-groups and that the simultaneous orientation of individuals toward multiple communities stimulate the development of a compound and even conflicting sense of attachment towards them. Implications for acculturation processes are discussed.