Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC) - Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt (FGZ)

Key facts

Rainer Forst
Geographical focus
Main elements of social cohesion
Other (Attitudes, Actions & Practices, Social Relations & Networks, Systemic & Institutional Contexts, Societal discourses)



Social cohesion refers to societies in which individuals have certain positive attitudes towards one another and the social context more generally, where they engage in actions and practices that contribute to the common good and form sustainable social relations, where they participate in institutional processes of cooperation and integration, and where they collectively discuss and evaluate such institutions. Social cohesion comes into existence when these five dimensions have a certain quality and harmonize with each other.


The Research Institute Social Cohesion (FGZ-RISC) distinguishes five dimensions that are of relevance for social cohesion:

1.    Individual and collective attitudes towards oneself and one another
2.    Individual and collective actions and practices
3.    The extent and strength of social relations and networks 
4.    Systemic and institutional contexts of cooperation and integration
5.    Societal discourses about social cohesion and integration.

These five dimensions represent a normatively neutral concept of social cohesion that does not imply normative claims about the specific form that such attitudes, practices, relations, institutions, and discourses must take for a society to be cohesive. The normatively neutral concept can be extended into broader and normatively rich conceptions of social cohesion by specifying the components of social cohesion along the five descriptive dimensions in connection with principles such as justice and democracy.  


Rainer Forst, “Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt. Zur Analyse eines sperrigen Begriffs“, in: N. Deitelhoff, O. Groh-Samberg, M. Middell (eds.), Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt. Ein interdisziplinärer Dialog, Frankfurt/Main – New York: Campus, 2020, pp. 41-53.



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