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Social cohesion has increasingly become a subject of interest for international organisations, governments, policy-makers and other practitioners. Whilst social cohesion is not a new concept, finding its origins in the work of Durkheim as early as 1893, it is the case that social cohesion has generated increasing interest from international governance institutions, states and policy-makers since the 1980s. This has often been in response to divisions and cleavages within societies, related to factors including economic downturn, tensions associated with migration, and ethnic or cultural conflict. Few would contest that in many ways, South Africa remains a deeply divided society. It thus perhaps comes as little surprise that, particularly given the declining focus on reconciliation within the national policy agenda, the South African government has increasingly focused on measures to deepen social cohesion through a range of different interventions and initiatives.
However, while there is a widespread agreement that social cohesion influences economic and social development, and that nurturing a more cohesive society is an important policy goal in itself, little progress has been made in trying to measure it and track progress in this domain over time. One of the most severe limitations to this progress is the lack of definitional consensus on social cohesion. Yet, without clear definition of what is meant by social cohesion, it becomes difficult to assess whether social cohesion has improved or worsened. Without measurement, potential key determinants that are most important among a large number of factors that influence social cohesion (e.g., inequality, poverty, violence, gender conflicts, mistrust, and others) remain obscured, making it difficult to formulate policies that can be expected to materially improve social cohesion and achieve inclusive development.
pdf : 370.44 KB
author(s) :
Justine BURNS
Lindokuhle NJOZELA
coordinator :
collection :
Research Papers
issn :
2492 - 2846
pages :
number :
available also in : en
370.44 KB (pdf)
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