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In all areas of academic or practical work related to disaster risk, climate change and development more generally, community and its adjunct community-based have become the default terminology when referring to the local level or working ‘with the people’. The terms are applied extensively to highlight what is believed to be a people-centred, participatory, or grassroot-level approach. Today, despite, or because of, its inherent ambiguity, ‘community’ tends to be used without thinking. This paper aims to analyse the way the concept of ‘community’ has come into fashion, and to critically reflect on the problems that come with it.