Communities, like individuals, develop their own identities. These identities will become distinct entities that can separate themselves from and differentiate themselves within a society or some other larger social group.
For communities to survive and thrive as distinct entities within a society, they will create and develop their semiotic domain, as described by James-Paul Gee. Such a domain will have it’s own shared languages, traditions, symbols and stories. Languages, in this case, can also mean jargon, terminology and vernacular associated with that community. Having all of these features of the semiotic domain will lead to a community creating a shared culture that all its members join and recognise.
An outcome of having these unique cultures within communities is that they can become exclusive and selective of who joins them and who doesn’t. As a community evolves and becomes self-governing it will only select individuals who share the same interests and purposes as the community itself. Those that do not align will not be accepted into the community.
The can be both a disadvantage and an advantage. The disadvantage is the exclusiveness, and possible isolation if not dealt with correctly. The advantage is that members will have a sense of pride when they enter the community. This is important as a community is essentially based on the people that are in it, and they are the ones that shape it.
The people in a community will take on roles and identities as well, depending on how long they have been there. If you wish to assign a gaming aspect to this, then the often unspoken status of members in a community go from beginners to amateurs, to masters and experts, community leaders and then the final stage of being a community elder.
For these roles to even be a possibility, a community must remain healthy and active. And this can only be done if it continually tries to recruit new members and supports the beginners as they onboard into the community. Additionally, current members must therefore also celebrate the achievement of both beginners, all the way up the ranks through to the elders. And doing this through rituals and traditions that are unique to the community.
Celebrating achievement has two effects, one is that it creates a bond and a sense of responsibility between each member. And secondly, events are necessary for facilitating this bond through shared experiences and shared memories, which increases the sense of belonging among the various members of a community.
When everyone feels that their contributions matter, and that their time and effort invested was worth it, then that sense of belonging will be truly entrenched within them.