The Relational Genesis of Community: Self–Other Dialogue


  • Kenneth C. Bessant

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Rural Development, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    • Correspondence to: Kenneth C. Bessant, Department of Rural Development, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, R7A 6A9, Canada. E-mail:

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Of late, there is increasing interest in the dialogical foundations of the self and community. Indeed, dialogical theory points to the embeddedness of community in self–other relations. This article proposes a dialogical approach to community that draws upon four key themes of discourse: the sociality of the self, the realm of interindividual relations, the constructive role of social representations, and the emergent properties of collective action. The ‘between’ constitutes a valuable concept for theorizing fundamental processes of relational existence and responsive meaning-making, including the co-constitution of community. In the process of coming into dialogic relation with one another, individuals construct meanings, experiences, and actions that profoundly shape both selfhood and community. Thus conceived, community is founded on dialogic interaction and intersubjective representation, thereby becoming the conscious object of reflection and action. The intention here is to theorize the relational genesis and continued transformation of community through self–other dialogue. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.