Social Cohesion

Pillars of Social Cohesion
Social cohesion is a term used to understand how to go about building community strengthening and community empowerment. We could ask, “What the foundations for mutual respect are in our society? Where do we find a common sense of belonging? How do we build confidence in our whole community? These – and other issues – are found in the building blocks of social cohesion.

Social capital – the many links an individual or an institution has in a community is built by a sense of belonging, networks, bonding and bridging, feelings of trust and safety, participation, diversity, similar values, norms and outlooks in life, reciprocity and citizenship, to name a few of the elements of social capital. Social cohesion, on the other hand, as measured by the Scanlon-Monash index of Social Cohesion, consists of worth, acceptance and rejection – legitimacy, participation, social justice and equity and belonging.


Pillars of Social Cohesion

Participation comprises voluntary work, political and cooperative involvement. This element measures whether a participant has voted in an election; signed a petition; contacted a Member of Parliament; participated in a boycott; attended a protest. This also includes participation in local government activies such as committees, boards for council properties such as municipal halls, parks and gardens, event committees like Australia Day and the Women’s Participation groups.

Belonging is built by shared values, identification with Australia and trust. This domain provides an indication of pride in the Australia way of life and culture; sense of belonging; importance of maintaining Australian way of life and culture. It is not football and meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars; these are simply signs of popular culture ( or middle class bogan as some call it today). Taking up the importance of maintaining the Australian way of life and culture – is the discovery of shared values and participating in the shared tasks of building community at all levels.

Social justice and equity
Social justice and equity is found in the evaluation of national policies. This domain brings together views on the adequacy of financial support for people on low incomes; the gap between high and low incomes; Australia as a land of economic opportunity; trust in the Australian government. Trust in government, the courts and police are strong measures of social justice and equity.

Acceptance and rejection legitimacy
Acceptance and rejection legitimacy tranche of social cohesion has elements of experience of discrimination, attitudes towards minorities and newcomers. This tranche measures rejection, indicated by a negative view of immigration from many different countries; reported experience of discrimination in the last 12 months; disagreement with government support to ethnic minorities for maintenance of customs and traditions; feeling that life in three or four years will be worse.

Worth comprises life satisfaction, happiness and future expectations. This property of social cohesion assesses satisfaction with the present financial situation and indication of happiness over the last year.

See Shepparton and Social Cohesion for illustration of some principles given here.




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