A phenomenological study of the felt experience of community
Some writers have suggested that for those who have a sense of community there exists deep personal connectedness, and a spiritual awareness of human and global interdependence. Five communitarians from different locales were interviewed to explore from a phenomenological perspective their felt experience of community life, with particular emphasis on their sense of personal and spiritual relatedness. The information from one of the participants was used for comparison purposes only, since she had left her community immediately prior to our interview. Half of the respondents had a felt sense of community and experienced nourishing and empowering relationships within it. They did not, however, speak of a deeper spiritual connection or awareness. One participant did not feel totally satisfied with community and it did not meet her emotional needs. The other community member did not have a felt sense of community but did feel a deep connectedness within it. It is unclear whether this feeling of connection was at an emotional or spiritual level. The interview data were examined with specific reference to elements postulated by McMillan \& Chavis (1986) as significant in community: membership, fulfillment of needs, influence and shared emotional connection. These elements were found to be relevant to all of participants' experience. However, while community life can be emotionally and personally fulfilling, it did not necessarily afford a sense of transpersonal relatedness or spiritual interdependence to those interviewed.
0700: Social structure