Social Cohesion Workshops
‘Building a cohesive society’– inception workshop
In March 2014, a workshop on ‘Building a Cohesive Society in South Africa’ was held at the University of Cape Town. Co-hosted by SALDRU and the GSDPP at UCT, and the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration (RIEB) at Kobe Universities, and funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the workshop brought together academics from South Africa and abroad, with local practitioners and activists, to share ideas and research. The workshop began with a case study of Kenya and attempts to develop a social cohesion index (SCI) in this context. The focus then shifted to South Africa, in a session on the implications of post-apartheid policy making on social cohesion. Subsequent sessions heard input from academics and activists on thematic and cross-cutting issues in the South African context. This led to lively discussion on the need for – and complexities involved in – defining, measuring and promoting social cohesion. Participants agreed in principle on the desirability of establishing a network to promote and enhance the visibility – and impact – of existing work on social cohesion in South Africa and to encourage interdisciplinary communication, debate and collaboration. A key goal would be translation of evidence on effective interventions into useful policy proposals and effective engagement with policy makers.
Read the workshop report.
'Exploring the key strands in promoting a more cohesive society'
In November and December 2014, the PII hosted workshops for practitioners, researchers and academics from civil society and government to share their knowledge, experience and ideas about:
- Identity and social cohesion
- Rebuilding trust in a segmented society
- Youth, safety and social cohesion
- Designing a socially cohesive society.
While there was lively debate on the definition, meaning, desirability and usefulness of the term ‘social cohesion’, there was consensus that any useful agenda for social cohesion would require a collaborative approach involving state, non-governmental organisations, business and the research community – a challenging, but imperative, task for South Africa’s development agenda. Participants at the four workshops identified the following gaps and opportunities for future collaboration and research:
- Clarify and define social cohesion in way that promotes a ‘human’ identity and celebrates diversity and difference beyond national symbols
- Explore redistribution/address economic inequality as a critical element of promoting social cohesion
- Focus on families – and the roles of both parents – as building blocks of social cohesion
- Explore the human capital dimensions – education and health – as pathways to inclusive development
- Explore agency and the roles of the state, universities, communities, civil society organisations and the media in promoting a more cohesive society.