Communicational permeability

Key facts

Bjørn Hallstein Holte
Geographical focus
Main elements of social cohesion
Intergroup relations



Social cohesion is the extent to which communication reaches organisations and people associated with a given social unit (see Holte, 2018, p. 54). 


The context of the definition is as follows:

[... S]ocial integration and system integration refers to the interlinkages between social systems and people and interlinkages among social systems. For the individual person or organisation, close integration means that their various inclusions facilitate a wide range of communicational possibilities. From a system perspective, close integration means that subsystems are closely interlinked, that couplings and communications among them are frequent. However, close system integration can also lead to volatility and mass exclusions of people. Social cohesion as the sum of social integration and system integration can be conceptualised in terms of how communication flows within society, among its subsystems, and to people. In other words, then, social cohesion is the communicational permeability of a social system, the extent to which the communication reaches the organisations and people associated with it (Holte, 2018, p. 54). 

The background of the concept is a wish to propose a general definiton of social cohesion that does not presuppose shared identities or values or other such matters. The concept can also be applied in empirical research (see Holte, 2020, 2021).

Explore the hub further

graph_concept_OECD Definition of Social Cohesion

OECD Definition of Social Cohesion

SCORE South Sudan

SCORE South Sudan

Education, equality and social cohesion: A comparative analysis

Education, equality and social cohesion: A comparative analysis

image_project_Sport for Development Resource Toolkit

Sport for Development Resource Toolkit