Social cohesion in context – perspectives from Africa Workshop
Social cohesion (SoCo) is increasingly recognised as an important condition for the resilience of societies and the wellbeing of its members. At the same time, rising inequality, decreasing acceptance of hitherto shared societal values, as well as citizens’ growing discontent with public institutions suggest that social cohesion may be eroding in many societies. Thus, it is now more important than ever to understand the patterns of the “glue that holds societies together”. In order to gain such insights, it is first necessary to understand how different societies conceive social cohesion.
Objectives: The overarching objective of this workshop is to enhance our conceptual and empirical understanding of social cohesion in selected African countries. Having advanced the measurement of social cohesion and working primarily on cross-national comparisons, we are now devoting more attention of our research project to the contextualization of social cohesion in different settings. The question is how non-European societies conceptualize social cohesion. So far, the mainstream literature is still heavily influenced by the realities and currents of thought of European scholars (e.g. Durkheim). In this regard, this workshop will discuss research results on relevant concepts of African country cases, and a comparison of them with the concept and measurement of social cohesion as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021 (“IDOS concept”). Among the objectives, the workshop aims to:
- Detect commonalities and differences between concepts, and across African countries.
- Detect conceptual dimensions from African countries that deviates from the main stream literature.
- Subsequently, it shall provide fresh insights to serve as a starting point for further conceptual developments and empirical analyses of SC in African contexts.
All together, the workshop brings together (co-)authors of seven (7) country case studies in Africa, scholars of social cohesion in Asia as well as all relevant partners of IDOS’ Social Cohesion project. The co-authors will present their findings from the respective country case as part of the comparative case study paper, “Exploratory analysis of localized concepts of social cohesion in selected African contexts.” Participants will subsequently engage in in-depth discussions of the research findings, as well as critical reflection on the findings in comparative perspectives to other regions with a particular focus on Asian contexts. In doing so, we hope to be able to formulate a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the concept of SC in non-European/’Western’ contexts.
 Attempts to capture understandings of social cohesion in Asia are an exception. For an example see Croissant, A., & Walkenhorst, P. (Eds.). (2019). Social Cohesion in Asia: Historical Origins, Contemporary Shapes and Future Dynamics. Routledge.