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Essay 3 A Review of Little Communities Article by Robert Redfield

Essay 3 A Review of Little Communities Article by Robert Redfield

‘Little Communities’ is an article retrieved from the book ‘Little Communities’ whose author is Robert Redfield. The article presents four main characteristics that can be used to classify communities: “distinctiveness, smallness, homogeneity, and all-providing self-sufficiency” (Redfield 316). Further, the author’ Summaries of Studies on Community’ highlights five small communities: the Hualcan of Peru, Springdale, NY; the Vice Lords, Chicago; the Iks, Uganda, and the Hutterites, Jasper, Canada (Kiniry and Rose 316-319). Accordingly, the main objective is to analyze and classify these five communities using Redfield’s classification characteristics.


Robert Redfield states that “where the community begins and ends is apparent” (Redfield 315). Based on this statement, this distinction is clearly recognized by outsiders and emphasized through the community members’ consciousness. A distinctive community is one that has clear features, aspects and characteristics. Therefore, distinctive communities are easy to identify due to these unique aspects.

The Hualcan of Peru fit within the category due to their clear cultural aspects and gender roles within their society. First, this community is made up of extended families with very few nuclear families. “Each household  pools its resources under the leadership of a senior male, who assumes the responsibility of all  that household’s economic decisions from purchases and labor contracts to fines, bribes, and community contributions.” (Kiniry and Rose 316). Clearly, male members have a great responsibility in the community. They make the major decisions that pertain to a family’s resources. “A large portion of the community’s time and resources goes into religious festivals.” (Kiniry and Rose 316). Festivals are an important aspect of this community. “…but in return the mayardomo must convert a sizable portion of his family’s wealth to the expenses of the festival.” (316). During festivals, a mayardomo is responsible for financing the cultural festival.

The Ugandan Iks also fall under this category due to their rather negative yet different characteristics. This community lacks social cooperation in their activities, leading to failure in various activities, such as hunting and gathering. “The Iks made no attempt to share food with one another. Even little children had to compete for food, with the weaker children often dying.” (318). Clearly, the community members did not look out for each other, an aspect that sets them apart.

The Hutterites also fit within this category because of the clear definition of people population in a particular settlement. Each settlement is divided once the population gets to 150. “The Hutterites antagonize other residents of Jasper by having little or nothing to do with them.” (319). Clearly, the groups are conscious of their differences and work hard to set themselves apart from other residents who do not meet their standards.

The Vice Lords and Springdale communities do not fit within this category due to their lack of distinctive or clear characteristics. The Vice Lords community is made up of street gangs and lacks any unique characteristics. Similarly, Springdale also lacks distinctive characteristics that make the community heterogeneous.


As Robert Redfield states, “…so small that either it itself is the unit of personal observation or else, being somewhat larger and yet homogenous, it provides some part of it a unit of personal observation fully representative of the whole.” (Redfield 315). From the quotation, the smallness of a community is determined by its ability to be heterogeneous and different. The population may also play a role but only in some cases.

The first community that fits in this category is the Hualcans of Peru. “The main economic units in Hualcan are extended families. Few families consist only of husband, wife, and children.” (Kiniry and Rose 316). This particular community is made up of extended families. Therefore, if outsiders interact with one family, they could learn about most or all of the community’s aspects.

The second community that fits is Springdale, New York, which is made up of people who have been born and raised there. “…one-fourth of the adults living in Springdale in 1958 were born there.” (317). As a result, the community’s practices tend to remain similar and can be deduced from a particular group of people. These are passed on from one generation to the next.

The Ugandan Iks are also small due to their common practices, especially those related to non-cooperation. “The Iks are a small tribe of hunter-gatherers…” (318). Due to their low population, the Iks of Uganda live in isolated villages, with the largest having only 30 thatched huts. The Vice Lords also fit since a new one replaces each street gang, and interaction with one of these provides details into how the community is structured.

The Hutterites fail to fit due to the large settlements of about 150 people. The community is characterized by their distinctive nature living among other community members whose practices they avoid. As such, each settlement or colony is set apart and self-sufficient. Therefore, one would have to interact with each colony to understand their ways of living.


“Activities and states of mind are much alike for all persons in corresponding sex and age positions; and the career of one generation repeats that of the preceding. So understood, homogenous is equivalent to “slow-changing” (Redfield 315-316). Generations that fit in this category tend to remain similar and take in part in the same practices over a long period. Changes occur at a slow pace or fail to occur at all.

The Vice Lords fit as the new street gang groups replace the older ones. “Violent exchanges with other street gangs are frequent” (Kiniry and Rose 318). These street gangs engage in frequent violent activities. This characteristic is common for the various generations living within the community.

The Iks of Uganda also fit in due to their unattached attitudes towards each other in the community. “Most villagers were distrustful of one another and particularly antagonistic toward their closest neighbors” (318-319). The lack of trust and the need for each other or any kind of cooperation is common to the Iks. This characteristic is passed on from one generation to the next eliminating any possibility of change.

The Springdale of New York fit in this category as most of the adults are born and live here. “…and saw their town as a place where “everybody knows everybody” and “where you can say hello to anybody.” (317). This has created a rather familiar atmosphere where each person seems to know the other. The Hualcan community also fits as the various traditions and practices are driven or upheld by the extended families. Due to this structure, it is likely that the community has carried out similar practices over many years.

The Hutterites fail to fit in the category due to their general acceptance of the new developments. “Yet they are not entirely resistant to modern developments, showing themselves quite willing, for example, to take advantage of advances in farm machinery” (319). Despite being conservative and loyal to their practices, this community is willing to give new developments a chance. This is bound to introduce changes, especially in their farming practices.

All-providing self-sufficiency

A self-sufficient community provides for all or most of the activities and needs of the people in it.” (Redfield 316). Based on the author’s definition, a self-sufficient community has various activities that sustain or provide for all members’ needs without the need to supplement from external sources.

The Springdale community is one of the self-sufficient groups. “Much of the town’s economy revolved around farming.” (Kiniry and Rose 317). The community’s reliance on agricultural activities and the community school that employs at least sixty people enable it to meet its needs. The Hualcan of Peru is another self-sufficient community that relies on farming activities. “…all Indians and all dependent on farming. They were seldom paid in wages, but in crops or grazing rights.” (316). This form of payment enables members to meet their basic needs.

The Hutterites also fit in this category despite trading with other communities. “Although the Hutterites do some buying and selling with the outside world, their economy does not seem to rely on such trade. When shortages occur, the Hutterites manage to get by on their reserves” (319). The Hutterites participate in various farming activities that produce enough to meet their basic needs. The community does not rely on trading with other communities to meet its needs.

The Iks of Uganda miss out on the category due to their incapability to provide for their community’s members. As the author states, children die due to a lack of food. In addition, the community lacks a specific activity that it could use to cater for its needs. The Vice Lords also fail to fit within this category due to the lack of information concerning the methods used to meet the members’ needs.


The main objective to classify the five communities in the ‘Summaries of Studies on Community’ article is met. The classification process used the four categories proposed by Robert Redfield. A community can be classified as small, distinctive, self-sufficient, or homogenous. Upon completing the classification process, it is clear that one community can be classified into one or more categories due to its various characteristics.

Works Cited

Kiniry, Malcolm and Mike Rose. “Summary of Studies on Community.” Kiniry, Malcolm and Mike Rose. Critical Strategies. Boston: St.Martin’s, 1998. 316-319.

Redfield, Robert. “Little Community.” Kiniry, Malcolm and Mike Rose. Critical Strategies. 3. Boston: St. Martin’s, n.d.


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Essay 3 A Review of Robert Redfield’s “Little Communities” Article

Essay 3 • Classifying • Three pages, typed (CR/NC)

  • Little Communities
  • Categories: Robert Redfield, “Little Communities” (315-16).

    Essay 3 A Review of Little Communities Article by Robert Redfield

    Essay 3 A Review of Little Communities Article by Robert Redfield

  • Materials: Malcolm Kiniry and Mike Rose, “Summaries of Studies on Community” (316-19). Includes summaries of Hualcan, Peru in 1952; Springdale, NY in 1958; the Vice Lords of Chicago in 1967; the Iks of Uganda in 1967; the Hutterites of Jasper, Canada in 1967. Treat “Summaries” as a single source written by Kiniry and Rose; do not refer to the original writers/titles (e.g. Stein’s Life in the Highlands of Peru). Ignore textbook instructions on 315.

Working and Final Drafts

As you write your Working and Final Drafts, please bear in mind these tasks:

  • Essay Purpose. Both options (“Little Communities”) present you with a ready-made classification scheme (Redfield’s four criteria for a little community ). You’re being asked to apply the ready-made classification scheme to the other articles (the five “community” summaries) and explain in detail how each of the communities or immigrant experiences conforms to the criteria laid out in the classification scheme. In other words, the first article supplies the categories (the four criteria of smallness ), and your job is to place the communities from the second article in the relevant categories, and explain how and why each belongs in a the category.
  • Essay Organization. Your classification essay will need an absolute minimum of five paragraphs—an introduction and at least one paragraph per category, possibly more than one per category. (It doesn’t need a conclusion.) Remember that you’re organizing your essay and its paragraphs by categories (or criteria or definitions or phases or whatever), not by “variables” (communities, writer’s metaphors, or paragraph types): each of your paragraphs will be about a category and will do two things: 1) give an extended definition of the category and then 2) ask whether each of the variables (five for the communities ) fits the category and explain why or why not.
  • Introductory Paragraph. The first paragraph needs to include minimally the following: 1) a statement of what your source titles and who the authors (where relevant) are; 2) a brief definition of each of your categories (some will be self-explanatory while others will need a short clause to define them, but there’s probably no need to quote the source here); 3) a brief descriptive list of the “variables” or “materials” or “stuff” you’re classifying (the specific communities, writer’s metaphors, or paragraph types: this might be done in one very long sentence); and 4) a statement of thesis that tells us you’re going to use the categories or criteria or definitions or phases of one article to classify the variables or materials or stuff (see above) of the other article.
  • “Category” Paragraphs. After the introductory paragraph, each of your paragraphs will be about a single category (or criterion or definition or phase or whatever), not about “variables” (communities, writer’s metaphors, or paragraph types). If each of your paragraphs after the first is about one category, it will do two things:

1) Start with an extended definition of the category that normally does the following:

  • quote the relevant definition from your source
  • explain/discuss the quoted definition when necessary

2) Discuss whether each of the variables fits the category (five variables for the communities , more for the metaphors and paragraph types) and explain why and how it fits or doesn’t fit the category. This is where you’ll refer to and probably quote the (For example, “The Ik tribe would fit the ‘smallness’ category because we’re told that even the largest of their villages only ‘comprised thirty such huts,’ a clear measure of a small community according to Redfield’s definition.”) For each category, you must discuss all the variables and determine whether they fit the category or not: if you’re writing about communities or immigrants, and you have fewer than five variables, you’re not done: you need to consider all of them. My advice is to address those that do fit the category first, then group the maybe one or (very rarely) two that don’t fit the category at the end of your paragraph. Again, each category implies at least one paragraph—probably a very, or very, very long paragraph for each of your categories.

  • Source Use/Documentation. Please see the Essay 2 assignment and the Source Use handout in the syllabus for details. Here are the general rules. Quotations from all sources must be copied exactly and enclosed by quotation marks. When you paraphrase, use your own words: reproducing the original and changing or rearranging a few words is still plagiarism: even when you change some of it, you have to quote the unchanged words, so make up your mind: quote it exactly within quotation marks or paraphrase it into your words , when you quote or paraphrase any ideas or information from a source, you cite a page number immediately after the quotation or borrowed ideas or info:
  • According to Kottack, Van Gennep’s liminal phase is accepted by most experts (99).

Works Cited

Kiniry, Malcolm, and Mike Rose. “Summaries of Studies on Community.” Critical Strategies. 3rd ed. Malcolm Kiniry and Mike Rose. Boston: St. Martin’s, 1998. 316-19.

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