Social cohesion in Europe: How do the different dimensions of inequality affect social cohesion?
Concept & measurement
This article examines the relationships between social cohesion and social inequalities in Europe by considering three interrelated issues. The first regards the definition and measurement of the concept of social cohesion. The second issue concerns the identification of the aspects of social inequality that affect the overall level of social cohesion. More precisely, I investigate two main hypotheses: the first argues the existence of a direct negative association between economic inequality and social cohesion. The second states that this relation is influenced by other aspects of social inequality such as the individuals’ position in the stratification system and the educational level. The third issue introduces the comparative analysis that has been based on the welfare regime approach. More specifically, I hypothesize that welfare state is relevant because it influences both the relationship between social position and economic inequality, and the relationship between social cohesion and economic inequality. Data from the first round of the 2002 European Social Survey have been analysed applying structural equation models in order to measure social cohesion and to estimate the effects, both direct and indirect, exerted by the different dimensions of inequalities on social cohesion. Moreover, through a multi-group analysis, I investigate the effects resulting from the different welfare regimes. It emerges that social position and welfare state are not able to fully mediate the effect played by economic condition.