Community as Story and the Dynamic Nature of community: Perceptions, Place, and Narratives About Change


community; collective behavior; social change


We present a theoretical discussion conceptualizing “community as story”—narratives that create and recreate one’s definition of and relationship to their community. We use a variety of disciplinary sources and representative quotes to help develop the theory. In so doing, we discuss the importance of subjective perception, narrative and place to the creation of a community story. Community stories take place in time and place, and as changes to the place occur, residents are compelled to adjust their stories and definitions. These changes are reflected in narratives that reminisce about what the community was and what it is becoming. The narratives then become part of a new community story. Above and beyond our theoretical conceptualization of “community as story”, to help illustrate our arguments in an empirical setting, we present a historical narrative from interviews with residents of Vance, Alabama, home of the Mercedes-Benz plant, which discuss the changing nature of and relationship to their community after the arrival of the plant in the 1990s.

Original Publication Citation

Cope, Michael R., Paige N. Park1, Jorden E, Jackson1, Kayci M Muirbrook1, Carol Ward, Scott S. Sanders, and Ralph B. Brown. 2019. “Community as Story and the Dynamic Nature of community: Perceptions, Place, and Narratives About Change.” Social Sciences, 8(2): 70

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor