Social cohesion

Social cohesion

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Social cohesion is a term used in social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

, sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity
Cultural diversity
Cultural diversity is having different cultures respect each other's differences. It could also mean the variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region, or in the world as a whole...

. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena. It is associated with theories of sociological structural functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 and political conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

. It is sometimes also used as a euphemism for the state of race relations and is closely related to the concept of Housing inequality
Housing inequality
Housing inequality refers to the differences in the quality of housing that exist within a given society. It has implications for the options available to an individual or family and tends to focus on the negative aspects of inequality...

Social cohesion has become an important theme in British social policy in the period since the disturbances in Britain's Northern mill towns (Oldham
Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies amid the Pennines on elevated ground between the rivers Irk and Medlock, south-southeast of Rochdale, and northeast of the city of Manchester...

, Bradford
Bradford lies at the heart of the City of Bradford, a metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, in Northern England. It is situated in the foothills of the Pennines, west of Leeds, and northwest of Wakefield. Bradford became a municipal borough in 1847, and received its charter as a city in 1897...

 and Burnley
Burnley is a market town in the Burnley borough of Lancashire, England, with a population of around 73,500. It lies north of Manchester and east of Preston, at the confluence of the River Calder and River Brun....

) in the summer of 2001 (see Oldham riots
Oldham Riots
The Oldham riots were a short but intense period of violent rioting which occurred in Oldham, a town in Greater Manchester, England, in May 2001...

, Bradford riots, Burnley riots). In investigating these, academic Ted Cantle drew heavily on the concept of social cohesion, and the New Labour government (particularly then Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 David Blunkett
David Blunkett
David Blunkett is a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, having represented Sheffield Brightside from 1987 to 2010...

) in turn widely promoted the notion. As the Runnymede Trust
Runnymede Trust
The Runnymede Trust is a leading pro-multiculturalism think tank., Its aim is to generate intelligence for a "multi-ethnic" Britain through research, network building and policy engagement...

 noted in their "The Year of Cohesion" in 2003:
"If there has been a key word added to the Runnymede lexicon in 2002, it is cohesion. A year from publication of the report of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the Cantle, Denham, Clarke, Ouseley
Ouseley Report
The Ouseley Report, dated 7 March 2005, by the former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Herman, Lord Ousely, gave a long-awaited response to race relations in Bradford, whilst painting a picture of segregation and also a deep-rooted concern about crime.Lord Ouseley said there were...

 and Ritchie reports moved cohesion to the forefront of the UK race debate."

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
    Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. An employee may be defined as:- Employee :...

    , income
    Income is the consumption and savings opportunity gained by an entity within a specified time frame, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. However, for households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interests payments, rents and other forms of earnings...

    , health
    Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

    , education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

     and housing
    A house is a building or structure that has the ability to be occupied for dwelling by human beings or other creatures. The term house includes many kinds of different dwellings ranging from rudimentary huts of nomadic tribes to free standing individual structures...

    . Relations between and within communities suffer when people lack work and endure hardship, debt
    A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

    , anxiety
    Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

    , low self-esteem
    Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

    , ill-health, poor skills and bad living conditions. These basic necessities of life are the foundations of a strong social fabric
    Social fabric
    Social Fabric is a social-mechanics product that was launched by Badgeville in September 2011 during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference to help drive user engagement and loyalty to websites....

     and important indicators of social progress
    Social progress
    Social progress is the idea that societies can or do improve in terms of their social, political, and economic structures. This may happen as a result of direct human action, as in social enterprise or through social activism, or as a natural part of sociocultural evolution...

  • The second basic tenet of cohesion is social order
    Social order
    Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

    , safety and freedom from fear, or "passive social relationships". Tolerance
    Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

     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
    Social network
    A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

     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
    Social integration
    Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

     of people into the mainstream institutions of civil society
    Civil society
    Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

    . 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
    Social equality
    Social equality is a social state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in a certain respect. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the...

     refers to the level of fairness
    Distributive justice
    Distributive justice concerns what some consider to be socially just allocation of goods in a society. A society in which incidental inequalities in outcome do not arise would be considered a society guided by the principles of distributive justice...

     or disparity in access to opportunities or material circumstances, such as income, health or quality of life
    Quality of life
    The term quality of life is used to evaluate the general well-being of individuals and societies. The term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, and politics. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of...

    , or in future life chances
    Life chances
    Life chances is a political theory of the opportunities each individual has to improve his or her quality of life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual's life will turn out...


Analysts at the credit rating agency
Credit rating agency
A Credit rating agency is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations as well as the debt instruments themselves...

Moody's Corporation is the holding company for Moody's Analytics and Moody's Investors Service, a credit rating agency which performs international financial research and analysis on commercial and government entities. The company also ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers using a standardized...

 have also introduced the possibility of adding social cohesion as a formal rating into their sovereign debt indices.

In 2011 a former advisor to Rt Hon John Denham MP launched a new web resource including material focused on the future of the 'cohesion' debate entitled

See also

  • Asabiyyah
    `Asabiyya or asabiyah refers to social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, and social cohesion, originally in a context of "tribalism" and "clanism", but sometimes used for modern nationalism as well, resembling also communitarism...

  • Social capital
    Social capital
    Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...

  • Social contract
    Social contract
    The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

  • Community cohesion
    Community cohesion
    Community cohesion refers to the aspect of togetherness and bonding exhibited by members of a community, the "glue" that holds a community together...

  • Structural cohesion
    Structural cohesion
    Structural cohesion is the sociological conception of cohesion in social groups. It is defined as the minimal number of actors in a social network that need to be removed to disconnect at least two actors in the remaining group. It is thus identical to the question of the node connectivity of a...

  • Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
    Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
    Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are sociological categories introduced by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies for two normal types of human association...

  • Social solidarity
  • Centre for Social Cohesion
    Centre for Social Cohesion
    The Centre for Social Cohesion is a British think tank headquartered in London and founded in 2007.-Foundation and constitution:CSC was established with funding of circa £275,000 from Civitas. The organisation is constituted as a company limited by guarantee, and was incorporated and registered...