posted 11 Jan 2011, 17:45 by Jess Maher
Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena. It is associated with theories of sociological structural functionalism and political conservatism. It is sometimes also used as a euphemism for the state of race relations and is closely related to the concept of Housing inequality
According to the government-commissioned, State of the English Cities thematic reports, there are five different dimensions of social cohesion: material conditions, passive relationships, active relationships, inclusion and equality.
- The report shows that material conditions are fundamental to social cohesion, particularly employment, income, health, education andhousing. Relations between and within communities suffer when people lack work and endure hardship, debt, anxiety, low self-esteem, ill-health, poor skills and bad living conditions. These basic necessities of life are the foundations of a strong social fabric and importantindicators of social progress.
- The second basic tenet of cohesion is social order, safety and freedom from fear, or "passive social relationships". Tolerance and respect for other people, along with peace and security, are hallmarks of a stable and harmonious urban society.
- The third dimension refers to the positive interactions, exchanges and networks between individuals and communities, or "active social relationships". Such contacts and connections are potential resources for places since they offer people and organisations mutual support, information, trust and credit of various kinds.
- The fourth dimension is about the extent of social inclusion or integration of people into the mainstream institutions of civil society. It also includes people's sense of belonging to a city and the strength of shared experiences, identities and values between those from different backgrounds.
- Lastly, social equality refers to the level of fairness or disparity in access to opportunities or material circumstances, such as income, health or quality of life, or in future life chances.