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Defining the community which one wishes to engage with is important Brint (2001) argues that this concept is rooted in the sociological constructs of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, however there are only two types of community category, those which are based on choices, or geography. In applying this analogy community can act as a broad term to encompass all

of those who are the subject of research within a particular context (Trower, 2011, p.3), yet can also mean a group of shared interests, with some cultural audiences being defined by this focus, for example those who are “family and community focused” (Arts Council England, 2011, p.30).

Applying the first of Brint’s (2001) definitions, communities on the ground may be defined geographically, for example statistically there are data sets about the socio-economic areas of towns and cities, such as census areas, wards, and areas of multiple deprivation (Scottish Government, 2016). Inclusion in such an area does not mean that an individual will identify themselves as part of that community, Brint (2001) also points out that levels of interactions among individuals within a community may be frequent or infrequent, and based on beliefs or activity.

Internet connectivity and technology improvements has led to the development of “imagined communities” (Boelens, 2006, p.33) where people who can be widely geographically dispersed, and never meet offline, still identify with a group due to a common connection (McGillivray et al., 2015a). In a cultural sense this could be freelance design workers who secure work income through platforms such as Patreon, people who play online games, contributors to chat boards and internet encyclopedias like Reddit and Wikipedia, or global content creators using apps and programmes as digital creation tools for an “imagined audience” (Marwick and Boyd, 2011, p.115). Virtual communities come within Brint’s (2001) scope of a community of choice.

Further discussion of the communities which apply within this practice-based research is given at section 2.3.2, particularly within the complex context of consultation and engagement guidance which notes that “each community will have different desires and needs which have to be balanced against the desires and needs of others” (The Scottish Government, 2010, p.4), and bearing in mind that the motivations for involving community members will vary among researchers, it can be seen as complex, or “cuddly” (Waterton and Smith, 2010, p.12).