the actualized community

I was thinking about confluence and coliberation, as I oft do, and started wondering if there were an equivalent to self-actualization, but on a social scale. In other words, would it make sense, under some given circumstances, to describe a community, or even a society, as having become self-actualized?

Self-actualization, as Maslow described it, is “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”[wikipedia]” Does a community have a similar desire? Does it ever achieve it?

I’m thinking that the fun community (a.k.a. the play community) is such a community, moving itself, rule by rule by broken rule, towards collective actualization. As is the work community or the fighting community or the sports community.

The next question, then, becomes whether the actualized community requires, or even promotes, the actualization of its members.


  1. Lily Belland on February 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    This reminds me of this Roy Croft quote: “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.” Of course we would encourage actualization of our members. Actualization doesn’t have to be about achievement, it’s about becoming. As people have more fun, they are likely to become more fun, and thus provide more fun for the community, which then helps the group actualize as well. I think it’s entirely possible.

    Love and laughter,

  2. Lori Kane on February 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I recognize more of my true self being present within self-organizing groups than within my individual being. Within community as well. For me, these are supported states of being, not something you do. Does that speak to what you mean?

    I’m thinking this month of my decision to turn my home into a free coworking space for the neighborhood. The need for this in my community has been there for some time. i couldn’t see it at first. now I have so much energy for the idea it’s off the charts! had to slow down long enough to recognize my own need for this and then be openly honest about my own need.

    “requires” isn’t a word I’d choose because it’s not a lasting kind of word. I’d choose support or fosters. Community can support self-actualization of individual members, small self-organizing groups within, itself, and nearby others (individuals, small groups, and communities). There is great joy to be found in bouncing between these states of being, in my experience.

  3. andrew perkis on February 28, 2012 at 2:03 am

    I suppose the rub is that self actualization goes against the grain in some ‘communities’, and part of our lives is always going to be spent in such communities. Because of this, perhaps, there is a thinking t that self actualization or ‘individuation’ is largely about wrenching yourself free of the limits of the surrounding society. Hopefully appreciation of the fun/ play community will gradually eclipse that strand of thought!

  4. Michelle Holliday on March 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Love this, Bernie. I have a book in progress in which there’s a paragraph that might offer some clues about whether an actualized community promotes the actualization of its members. “At the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (first released in 1954) is a level he called self-actualization. This level differs from the preceding and more individualistic self-esteem in its greater emphasis on contribution and impact. In later writings, Maslow split that highest level into two, adding the need for what he termed ‘transcendence.’ …[T]he gist of his theory is that at the highest level of development, people are driven by the need to find their best form of divergence and their best relationships to their surrounding context, all with the goal of transcending themselves through creativity and problem solving.” In other words, as we – and our communities – reach the stage of actualization and transcendence, two good things happen: we’re able to support diversity within unity, and play becomes our modus operandi! (Isn’t it interesting that we never hear about “transcendence” as the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy?)

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