Social Cohesion: The need of our society
Most of us have addressed the concept of Social Cohesion in a generic facet whereas it requests a defined attention. To measure the gravity of the subject, we need to look into the basic concept of it.
Social Cohesion is a specific aspect of society’s “Collective Quality of Life” or the solidarity exhibited by the people of or more precisely, “the sense of community and degree of brotherhood that exists in a particular society”.
It depends upon GLADS (Good Lives and Decent Societies) principle.
It envelops both individual well-being (quality of life) and societal well-being (quality of society). If individual well-being contributes to the societal well-being, then it will add to the quality of society. Contrary to that, it will create a separate class and add to the deterioration of the society. For easy understanding, the social cohesion is a network of different bonds that are interdependent.
From bonds between individuals it travels up to the bonds to the common good and leads to the bonds to the society as a whole. It starts with social networking, creates trust between the individuals and bridges for a society to be connected as a whole by accepting diversity in it.
The next is the bonds to the common good that teach us solidarity and helpfulness, respect for social rules and civic participation. If the previous two bonds are well knit, the bonds to the society as a whole mark the strong national identity, enhance trust in institutions and create the perception of fairness. All these bonds fabricate a strong net of social cohesion.
At the same time, we also need to be aware of the determinants of the social cohesion, e.g. the national income (GDP), knowledge economy, income inequality, unemployment and importance of religion. A moderate GDP with knowledge economy is an important combination for the development of a cohesive society where margin of income inequality and unemployment is kept to the minimum.
It is a crucial variable for economic governance. Social cohesion cannot be solicited when human capital is at risk and knowledge economy is lesser than required. Building of reliable bonds cannot be achieved unless there is trust in the individuals. It has “objective” component as well as “subjective”.
The “objective component” is the tendency of people to be interknitted with each other urging them participate in political and civic activities and “subjective component” builds a strong perception that “others” (other fellow citizens and the government) can be relied and trusted in case of need. This creates a direct positive effect on the quality of institutions and indirect effect on the growth of economy. “I will not be left behind in case of any need” is the feeling of a citizen that has a positive impact on “individual well-being”.
Correcting stereotypes (individual) over other groups in society, particularly immigrants and racially diverse others and improving tolerance between social and racial groups is not easy to tackle with because discrimination and stereotypes are deeply rooted into individuals’ basic psychological attitudes which make people to draw distinctions across groups. Another element that harms social cohesion is the factually wrong information spreaded by print, electronic and social media.
This factually wrong information feeds into divisive mindsets. Improving social cohesion needs a challenging, integrated and comprehensive approach.
The education from the early age focusing the divisive social issues, facilitating public participation, undertaking of community work and implementation of welfare policies can contribute towards a socially cohesive society.