Wispy communities: Transient gatherings and imagined micro-communities

Gary A Fine, Lisa Jo van den Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Building on Benedict Anderson's concept of "imagined communities," we apply the term to a class of social locations that we term wispy communities. By wispy communities, we refer to social ties that exist within evanescent, limited micro-publics-worlds of action that are temporary, limited in time and space, and have the potential of being displaced by more insistent identities. We divide occasions into events and gatherings, and then divide gatherings into macro-groups ("nations," such as Woodstock or Burning Man) and micro-groups ("fests," including focused groups, such as the Lebowski Fest). A wispy community is a distinctive form of local affiliation that underscores both the communal features of occasions and their evanescent quality. In such communities relations are frequently intense, but after their conclusion relations slip into latent memory, available to be retrieved under proper circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1335
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • community
  • culture
  • festivals
  • gatherings
  • small groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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