Social Cohesion: Concept and Measurement
Political polarization, nationalist trends and not least the effects of the Covid19 pandemic have recently been threatening the cohesiveness of societies around the world. Viceversa, a lack of social cohesion can cause instability. Although these relationships are plausible, we still lack sound empirical evidence to prove them. There are several reasons for this caveat. First, concepts of social cohesion are contested, and thus, their operationalization lacks a coherent standardization in social sciences. In addition, many concepts include in their measurement elements that social cohesion is expected to influence causally, making the measurement useless for causal analysis. This is particularly relevant for social (in)equality. Second, data generation to build indicators for measuring social cohesion is complex and challenging. Survey and perception data is often not available across countries while expert data rarely address all of the key dimensions of social cohesion. Third, regionally, earlier studies were limited to Europe and Latin America, while the research interest in other world regions has been increasing recently. Forth, understanding social cohesion requires a multi-disciplinary perspective because it comprises political as well as social and psychological elements. All these factors hamper the comparison between different countries and world regions.
This panel aims at introducing and discussing concepts and measurements of social cohesion. The German Development Institute’s research project “Social Cohesion in Africa” developed a concept, measurement and profiles of social cohesion in Africa. Renowned scholars who have studied social cohesion will discuss DIE’s concept while bringing in their own views of how to best observe social cohesion in empirical research and practice.
• Georgi Dragolov, Bertelsmann Social Cohesion Radar, Jacobs University Bremen)
• Carolyn Logan, Afrobarometer, Michigan State University
• Richard Wike, Pew Research Center, Washington D.C.
• Jan Hofmeyr, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town
• Erin McCandless, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg
• Christian Welzel, World Value Survey, Leuphana University Lüneburg (tbc)
• Julia Leininger (DIE)
Daniel Nowack / Gisela Kuhlmann
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