Community vitality

The study of measuring community vitality is relatively a new subject. Not much research has been done on it. For meaningful development and vitality of the community the emphasis on the quality of life of the community, not just on the economic aspects of it, is clearly important. This is because research has shown that an increase in material well-being over time does not increase the happiness of the people (Blanchflower and Oswald 2000; Diener and Oishi 2000; Myers 2000; Kenny 1999; Lane 1998; and Easterlin 1974, 1995; cited in Frey and Stutzer 2002). An increase in income definitely raises the happiness of the people with low income, but stops to do so beyond a certain level (Inglehart 1999). Besides an excessive focus on material development has led to a diminished sense of community in some countries.

Definitions of community are varied, but show three general characteristics: it is a social group, people in it have common activities and experiences, and it occupies a definite territorial area (Hoffer 1931). This paper is mainly concerned with geographic communities of people living in villages and towns.

This study pertains to determinants and methods that could maximize well-being and vitality of the community, as well as revitalize moribund communities. It examines interactions and relationships within and, to some extent, across communities. By looking at specific dimensions of community vitality, such as  giving and volunteering, social cohesion, safety, family, and duration of stay in the community; this paper gives some ideas on the state of community vitality in Bhutan. Relationships between these variables are also analysed.