Community Cohesion or Social cohesion is an idealistic state in which all the citizens of a certain community/society abide by one common code of law, respect each other’s rights and morals and strive together to maintain ‘social order’. The European Committee for Social Cohesion defines community cohesion as, “the capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimizing disparities and avoiding polarization. A cohesive society is a mutually supportive community of free individuals pursuing these common goals by democratic means.
” (Council of Europe, 1)
A cohesive community exhibits some basic features. Firstly, such a community has a common aspiration, which is shared by all the citizens of the community. As a result, each member feels as much a part of it as the other. Secondly, despite the common vision a cohesive community continues to respect the unique character of all the sub-communities and each individual member. Thirdly, a cohesive community allows equal opportunities to everybody.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that in a cohesive community strong interpersonal bonds are formed, even between individuals with dissimilar backgrounds, in social settings such as the neighbourhood, schools, colleges and offices. (Brundage, 145-7)
In order to ensure the success of Community Cohesion the legal body must be able to carry out a number of functions effectively. For instance, it must be able to set certain standards of behaviour acceptable to all the members of the community. It will also have to decide upon the punishments for those who deviate from these standards. Again, despite its duty to punish the guilty party it must honour and defend basic human rights like ‘the presumption of innocence’. Alongside, it must also assist the organized shift from a particular generation to the next. (Prawer, 221-5)
How socially cohesive a certain society/community is will determine how well it deals with emergency situations. In other words a society’s degree of community cohesiveness is closely related to its conflict resolution. Sociologists explain that if a certain group (in this case a society or a community) is closely bonded then it will agree upon strategies to use in order to deal with a crisis situation easily. And not just in terms of crisis this cohesiveness comes handy in a number of other situations, for example in the field of community development or community health and education or even in anti-racism drives etc. (Dollard, 116-7)
Despite the nobleness associated with the concept of ‘Community Cohesion’ specialists point out that its philanthropic exterior hides a number of grey areas. A society is a heterogeneous body and therefore consists of varied people with varied backgrounds, ambitions, religious beliefs, values and intentions. As a result, the specialists argue, no community or society can really have the ‘same aspirations’. When deciding about the goals or priorities for such a group therefore, certain people get a natural prevalence over others. Hence, the community cohesive model actually echoes the same majority rule that it tries to escape. So, if you are an Indian living in Britain the ‘common aspirations’ that you will have to follow is most likely to be British, since the majority of people deciding upon it are likely to be the locals.
It is no wonder then that a recent study found immigrants from East Europe countries (such as Albania, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro and Ukraine) living in London, Brighton and Hove to be ‘affecting the community cohesion’ of the area. It also revealed that long-term residents who have been living in Britain (and have therefore conformed to the needs and expectations of the country) are more cohesive than those who have just appeared (and are therefore yet to conform). (Goddard, 433-5)
Not very long ago Conservative Leader, David Cameron, had touched upon the propensity of the British policies to try and “bully” the followers of the religion of Islam into acting British! Expressing concern about this trait Cameron had said, “I think we needed to go much deeper than this if we are to address the substantial alienation and division that exists in our country today,” (The Muslim News, 1)
Many feel that the attempts at social cohesion are actually disguised attempts to beat other communities into shapes more desirable for Britain. Like Cameron further points out Blair’s community cohesion policies makes an absolute hash of a number of pressing concerns. The first amongst these is the concept of Community Cohesion itself, the second is the very serious anxiety about the burgeoning rate of terrorism in the world and the third is about the “integration of British Muslims”. “Promoting community cohesion,” said Cameron “should indeed be part of our response to terrorism – but cohesion is not just about terrorism, and it is certainly not just about Muslims.” (The Muslim News, 1)
Blair’s misguided policies are only but the tip of the iceberg. The community-based attempts at social cohesion also function in much the same way and prioritize a number of issues in almost the same hotchpotch manner. Apart from the structural flaws in such attempts of course there is the obvious concern about the majority rule, which we have briefly touched upon in the above section. (Powell, 49-53)
A recent study conducted by The Institute for Public Policy Research revealed a few truths about present day Britain. The first amongst these concerns the fact that Britain’s wealthiest 10% have just gotten richer by a whopping 7% in just 10 years! It is true; IPPR confirms that the amount of wealth held by the richest British citizens has just jumped from a 47% to a neat 54% between 1997 and 2007. IPPR Director, Nick Pearce said that the data showed the abundant room still left for improvement. He emphasized that the richest 10% getting richer only went on to show that there was an immediate requirement for what he termed a ‘radical agenda’. Only ‘radical social reform’ can hope to reduce the yawning economic disparity prevalent in the country today, he said, adding that the next 5 years would be particularly ‘critical’. The reports also revealed that apart from the gap between the rich and the poor the number of childless adults living below poverty level too have increased considerably in the past 10 years. (Knott, 188-9)
Comparatively, Economic secretary to the Treasury John Healey is far less cynical about things. Healey is quite sure that the economic disparity situation is fairly repairable, “It (eradication of wealth inequality) is hardly achievable in the short term” he said confidently “that’s why we have got a long programme for the future. It’s a long term generational political challenge.” (Dos, 47-48) Of course no one quite bothered asking how long this long term really lasted.
In yet another study conducted by the Office for National Statistics indicated that there is a definite concentration of people at the lesser levels of weekly earnings. So, the earnings of an entire family in the bottom 10% equal a mere £164 (or less)/week whereas the weekly earnings of a household in the top 10% is at least a neat £658, if not more. An estimated 1.6 million people of the country, it was found, were a part of households that made more than 1000 bucks (or more) a week! (Tyerman, 233-37)
As expected therefore, the income distribution of the country is thoroughly lopsided. A 2002/03 study (also conducted by the Office for National Statistics) revealed for instance that the top 10% of the population pocketed more than a quarter of the nation’s total income. The top 30%, the same study said, took home just a little above half of the country’s total income. (Cunningham, 24-5)
The ‘deep-seated’ economic disparity in the population is closely reflected by the inequalities in the health and social conditions of the people. A part of the above-mentioned study also went on to show that people’s life expectancy is still heavily dependent on their occupation. Between the years 1997-98 for example, it was found that men in professional groups lived, on an average, 7.4 years longer than those clubbed under the unskilled manual category. Similarly, professional women were found to live at least 5.7 years more than their unskilled counterparts. (Border, 375)
Life expectancy apparently also has a lot to do with exactly where you live! So, if you were a man living in Glasgow city between the years 1999 and 2001 you would live exactly 10 years less than some one living in North Dorset, during the same time.
And as far as people’s use of technology (a definite reflection of their living standards) are concerned, here is how things stand. 86% of the top 10% of the population had ready access to personal computers in 2000-2002, 79% of them even had an Internet connection. As compared to them only 15% of the lowest income group had home computers. Only 10% of them had an Internet connection. (Kumar, 334)
A monologue about her inequalities ought to be followed by an analysis of the reasons contributing to the various discrepancies in Britain. We know for instance that there is unequal distribution of wealth, but why is there an unequal distribution of wealth? Of course, the answer to that is not simple or concise enough to be fitted into this article but perhaps it has much to do with the nation’s and the society’s perception of ‘development’. Every community desires ‘development’, as a result it elects governments who promise to fulfil the community’s desires. Now, if the government (who in many ways reflect the community’s own ambitions) does not consider poverty elimination to be one of the priorities for the country and instead decides to tackle health concerns or even child abuse first then economic inequality will increase in an unchecked manner. Of course, like Pearce had been quoted saying in the above section, the Labour party did not look at ending economic disparity or reducing poverty as one of its primary objectives. Thus the difference between the various social strata’s had only widened over time. (Drake, 153-55)
The other disparities, such as the unequal living standards or health condition of the people of course are intricately entwined with this one issue. Thus living in less prosperous areas such as Glasgow meant living 10 years less than someone living in North Dorset (a comparatively affluent setting) and being skilled (and therefore better paid) meant being healthier than someone less skilled. Ultimately the issue in hand is really the very complex and utterly bewildering problem regarding proficiently handing out approximately equal parts of the national income to the country’s citizens. In Britain some people earn more than others, as a result some people have more money than the others! So, the relevant question is: why do they earn more than the others? If it’s because the former group is more educated or skilled then perhaps the Government can do something about improving their educational standards or level of skill? If it’s because of inherited treasures perhaps the Government will levy greater taxes on such legacies to ensure greater social equality? The options are open really; one can take his pick in regards to what can be done. (Bell, 271-3)
Formulating valid theories can help us, as a community, to increase and speed up our level of development in every possible field. It provides us with the tremendous power required to make new discoveries and to perk up our present efforts to ensure greater results. Thus, like Peter Drucker rightly put it “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.” (Jacobs, 1) It can help us know what ought to be done and also decide exactly how it ought to be done.
Social development is heavily dependent on valid theory. Without it development will be a matter of a vague process of trial and error, which will cause thousands of failures and a rather imbalanced growth. The Increasing difference between the rich and the poor, the constant environmental exhaustion and the rising level of crime and violence in developed countries (such as Britain) signals that we are heading ahead ruthlessly and seeking development without contributing enough time to the planning. Only considerable amount of advances in development theory can really help us increase our rate of social success. Only the formulation of a sound theoretical structure will allow us the kind of direction our endeavours in addressing various social inadequacies really require. (Manning, 279)
In conclusion it should be mentioned that community structure is in many ways reliant on the member’s capacity to learn and apply social theories to their lives. It is only if the member (or rather, members) can learn and apply appropriately that they can hope to find better ways of fulfilling their personal and communal ambitions. It is social theory that will effectively help people meet an external threat or keep up with the demands of a number of social or physical conditions. (Gervers, 17-22) Thus, to ensure a systematic, effective functioning of our community we have to turn to social theories to finally bail us out.
Bell, L; Man, Society and Management Techniques (New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2006) pp 271-3
Border, S; Human Resource Strategies: Games People Play (Remote Publishing Trust; 2004) pp 375
Brundage, C; Community Law and the Crusaders of Community (HBT Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 2000) pp 145-7
Council of Europe; Background; coe.int; 2005; retrieved on 07.07.2007 from http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/socialpolicies/SocialCohesionDev/Forum/2005background_en.asp
Cunningham, S A; Introduction to Sociology (DLTT Publications Ltd. 2006) pp 24-5
Dos, M; Advent of Motivation (Alliance Publications; 2007) pp 47-48
Dollard, John; Zenith and Zero Point (New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2004) pp 116-7
Drake, S; Evaluation of Techniques in Community Migration (ABP Ltd. 2006) pp 153-55
Goddard, J; Management: Making the Most Out of It (Howard & Price. 2006) pp 433-5
Gervers, V; Vision of UK (HBT Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 2000) pp 17-22
Jacobs, Garry & Asoka N; VISION 2020: Knowledge for Development; ICPD: Presentation to the Planning Commission; August 8, 2000; retrieved on 07.07.2007 from http://www.icpd.org/development_strategies/Knowledge%20for%20Development.htm
Knott, P; Development of Sociology as a Science (Dasgupta & Chatterjee 2007) pp 188-9
Kumar, H; Win Some, Lose None (HBT & Brooks Ltd. 2005) pp 334
Manning, C S; Principals and Practices: Sociology Today (National Book Trust. 2004) pp 279
Powell, M; Anatomy of a Religion (ABP Ltd 2001) pp 49-53
Prawer, H A; The Communal Kingdom (Allied Publishers 2004) pp 221-5
The Muslim News; Communicating community cohesion; News and Views of Muslims in the United Kingdom; Issue 214, Friday 23 February 2007; retrieved on 07.07.2007 from http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/paper/index.php?article=2840
Tyerman, J; Invention of Brotherhood (Allied Publications 2001) pp 233-37
Cite this Community cohesion
Community cohesion. (2016, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/community-cohesion/