"Manufacturing" Community: Solidarity, Profit and the Bar Owner


  • Timothy Hartshorn Connecticut College




This study considers the potential of eight independently-run bars in a small Connecticut seaport city to “manufacture” community. It focuses on the marked tension faced by the seven owners (and one manager) of these establishments, who seek to attract regular “crowds” with whom they respectively identify while also sustaining profit margins. By examining bar activity and functionality, this study contributes to contemporary understandings of “community” within anthropology. Of particular interest are theoretical frameworks that account for the negotiation of identity and potential development of community as these occur within specific localities, especially small businesses. Based on interview and observational data collected over a six-month period, this study finds that the bar may, indeed, be said to “manufacture” community. Each of the establishments reviewed entices patrons to identify (both as individuals and as members of a “crowd”) with a highly personalized bar space and, by extension, to make regular bar visits. This process fosters continuous discourse between owners and patrons concerning various elements of bar environment. Because owners hold greater influence over the bar space