The Changing Social Structures

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Types of communities

Most of the existing schemes of classification of the urban communities of Quebec are based on criteria such as population, juridical status or administrative functions, that have only secondary or indirect significance. A new, meaningful typology is needed and it should be established with regard to the degree of industrialization. Two leading questions should guide the choice of the criteria of classification : 1. Which was there first, industry or the community ? 2. At what period in the history of the province has industry given rise to, or transformed the community ? The first question, as will presently be shown, has an important bearing on the ecological structure of the communities. The twofold classification which it suggests lends itself to a cross-classification based on whether industry is single or multiple in the communities. The second question, while referring to the general economic evolution, will help to determine the important criteria for further cross-classifying the communities by types of dominant industries, such as pulp and paper, textile, mining, etc. Whatever the degree of its final refinement, such a classification would ultimately be polarised around three main types of communities : 1. those where one or more industries have exclusive importance ; 2. those where the importance of industry is shared with other economic activities ; 3. those where industry is nonexistent.

Professor Everett-C. Hughes was not far from this conception when, in 1936, he proposed the following five-class typology of French-Canadian communities : 1. the old, settled agricultural parishes ; 2. the new agricultural and fishing communities ; 3. the old, small French towns which, of late, have been invaded by industry ; 4. the new frontier-towns where industry came first ; 5. the former English towns where French farmers have moved in as labour. Montreal and Quebec were considered as special [104] cases 5. More recent research enables us to submit the following scheme which envisages all the Quebec communities as located somewhere along a continuum, one extreme being the single industry, company-town type of community, like Arvida, the other extreme being the non-industrial, administrative or educational center, such as, perhaps, Nicolet or L'Assomption. The classification is as follows :

1. Single-industry, company-owned communities

2. Single, dominant industry centers, which are subdivided into:

a) Pulp and paper centers ;

b) Textile communities ;

c) Mining towns ;

d) Hydro-electric and chemical centers ;

3. The mixed, industrial-commercial towns ;

4. The predominantly trading centers ;

5. The non-industrial towns, which may themselves be subdivided into many sub-categories.

Montreal and Quebec are also considered as special cases.

This typology is only tentative, but in our opinion, points in the right direction by assuming that the most telling feature of contemporary communities is the extent to which their existence and social organization depend on industry. It is in the light of this basic factor that comparisons between the population volume, the ecological structure, the occupational and ethnic distribution and the complement of institutions of different categories of communities assume their full meaning.

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