Types of community
While every community is unique, there are broad ways we can categorize some communities that share important characteristics. Hopefully these groupings can help in our understanding of community. We should remember that even within categories, communities will vary widely and some communities will be in multiple categories.
There are two general methods for describing intentional community, there are "descriptive terms" like ecovillage, Christian community, student housing co-op and such, and then there are "classification systems."
The most common method for describing a particular intentional community is to introduce a descriptive term for it (e.g., back-to-the-land, spiritual, cohousing, etc.) and then to describe its particular attributes. Many of those attributes may be shared by other forms of intentional community, and some may be unique to the community at issue.
Classification systems for intentional community begin with an overview of the many attributes of community, such as governance, economics, belief structures, social systems, orientation to technology, geographical location and other considerations, then identifying a range of aspects for each attribute (e.g., aspects of governance would be authoritarian to participatory processes), and then determining where a particular community is most appropriately located on that range. Such classification systems are particularly helpful in representing the changes made as a particular community or community movement evolves over time, and can help to identify affinities among disparate communities seeking to network with others in creating community movements (e.g., ecovillage network, spiritual networks, etc.).