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Promoting social cohesion

Promoting social cohesion: Implications for policy and evaluation

Peter Ratcliffe
Ines Newman
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  • Book Info
    Promoting social cohesion
    Book Description:

    This book makes a forthright case for a shift in policy focus from 'community cohesion' to the broader notion of social cohesion, and is distinctive and innovative in its focus on evaluation. It constitutes an extremely valuable source both for practitioners involved in social cohesion interventions and for researchers and students studying theory-based evaluation and the policy areas highlighted (housing, intergenerational issues, the recession, education, communications, community development).

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-696-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Notes on the contributors
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: Promoting social cohesion
    (pp. 1-12)
    Peter Ratcliffe and Ines Newman

    National social policy agendas tend to be dominated by a relatively small number of key concepts. In Britain,¹ one such concept, ‘community cohesion’, has assumed a pre-eminent role over the past decade. It has been the subject of a host of government enquiries, policy papers and even a national Commission – the Commission on Integration and Cohesion (CIC). There is also a policy institute, the Institute of Community Cohesion, committed to propagating its use as a guiding theme for national policy and practice.

    In addition, it has spawned a voluminous academic literature, much of it, to one degree or another,...

  4. Part One: Theoretical perspectives

    • ONE From community to social cohesion: interrogating a policy paradigm
      (pp. 15-40)
      Peter Ratcliffe

      In the wake of rapid, increasing and increasingly complex, international migratory flows, most European Union (EU) host countries are facing serious challenges to their internal social stability. Policies, variously labelled ‘integration’, ‘cohesion’ or ‘community cohesion’, are commonly seen as the way forward, but there is much confusion as to what these mean and how they should be translated into policy and practice. The focus of this chapter, and indeed the book, is on Britain but this wider context is vital for the core arguments.

      The emergence in Britain of what one might call the ‘cohesion paradigm’ is relatively recent yet...

    • TWO Evaluating social cohesion
      (pp. 41-58)
      Helen Sullivan

      This chapter is concerned with the evaluation of social cohesion. It begins by identifying some key evaluation challenges posed by the proposed definition of social cohesion. It situates these challenges in ongoing debates about the merits of different approaches to evaluation and highlights the potential contribution of recent developments in ‘theory-based evaluation’. Drawing on ‘theories of change’ – a popular example of theory-based evaluation – the chapter explores how these challenges may be met and the implications for evaluators.

      This book argues for a reappraisal of the value of policies based on ‘community cohesion’ and their replacement by a policy...

  5. Part Two: Community cohesion to social cohesion:: evaluation and data – methodological issues

    • THREE Measuring performance in community cohesion
      (pp. 61-80)
      Crispian Fuller

      This chapter examines national indicators that attempt to measure performance in cohesion interventions. The importance of such an issue lies in the critical significance of performance management in what has been termed the ‘managerial state’, and which has been a key element of New Labour’s approach to centralising control and devolving responsibility for delivery. On the one hand, such performance management systems seek to control the actions of delivery agencies; on the other hand, and as suggested by governmentality scholars, they represent processes of social construction as government creates and frames social realities through performance indicators (PIs), which often go...

    • FOUR Migration, race and population dynamics
      (pp. 81-100)
      Ludi Simpson

      This chapter reviews the available approaches to understanding and interpreting local population change, in the context of government policy for community cohesion and this book’s emphasis on social cohesion. There is some agreement among academics and government that the ethnicity of residential patterns and friendship networks should not be given prominence when identifying targets for social policy. But indicators of population change are nonetheless essential contextual information for social programmes. Furthermore, claims that residential segregation is dangerous and friendship networks are polarised are still so commonplace that they require addressing in the first part of this chapter. The second part...

    • FIVE Using local administrative data to evaluate social and community cohesion
      (pp. 101-120)
      John Eversley and Les Mayhew

      This book argues that an analysis of social cohesion needs to focus on whether people from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities as well as assessing interaction, interdependence and conflicts of interests of people from different backgrounds. Whatever the vision of a cohesive society is, there are important questions to answer about where we stand now, and how we can measure change. This chapter focuses on the measurability of social cohesion. We argue that use of flawed data, often analysed inadequately, misleads us as to where we are and where we are going. This is not inevitable, however, because better...

    • SIX Assessing the impact of social cohesion initiatives in a media age: methodological and theoretical considerations
      (pp. 121-140)
      Roger Grimshaw and Kate Smart

      The main aim of this chapter is to develop methodological and theoretical thinking about how to assess cohesion initiatives in an age of heightened and diverse media communications. It will discuss how the concept of ‘community’ can be socially understood within a global and local social context in which complex communication systems shape its meanings. It will use an illustrative case study, drawing on the methods and findings of a specific research project concerned with aspects of cohesion in a large metropolis – London. The study showed how newspaper representations of asylum constructed images of migration that were differently received...

    • SEVEN Social cohesion in the local delivery context: understanding equality and the importance of local knowledge
      (pp. 141-160)
      Rose Doran and Michael Keating

      This chapter aims to set out how a developed understanding of social cohesion provides a broader moral and long-term context for decisions about community leadership and public service delivery in local government. It argues the importance of grounding broad philosophical concepts and policies of community/social cohesion in the reality of understanding and addressing local inequality and disadvantage, and the importance not just of local measurement, but also of local authorities’ qualitative knowledge of the communities in which they work.

      The chapter acknowledges the stark economic reality currently faced by both national and local government, and the challenges this presents in...

  6. Part Three: Policy areas

    • EIGHT Housing, spatial patterns and social cohesion
      (pp. 163-184)
      Peter Ratcliffe

      In certain key senses, housing remains a Cinderella issue in both research and policy terms. Indicative of this is the fact that in the, otherwise excellent, report of the Runnymede Trust Commission into the future of multi-ethnic Britain (Parekh, 2000), housing was alone among the major institutional arenas in not being seen as important enough to merit a chapter. It was occasionally mentioned as a sub-theme in the context of debates about residential patterns but it nevertheless failed to assume a real material presence.This is misguided.Both spatial patterns and the built environment are crucial to an effective understanding of the...

    • NINE Education policy, social cohesion and citizenship
      (pp. 185-206)
      Audrey Osler

      Across the globe there has been, since the early 1990s, increased interest in the role of citizenship education in creating cohesive societies, by both national policy makers and international organisations. This chapter focuses on the role of education generally and citizenship education in particular within the United Kingdom (UK) government’s goal of fostering cohesion, examining both the policy framework for schooling in England and those policies that address the education of adult migrants. These policies are situated within a historical context, since much of what is advocated in schooling today appears to reflect a longstanding goal of promoting a hegemonic...

    • TEN Addressing worklessness post the financial crisis
      (pp. 207-226)
      Ines Newman

      Peter Ratcliffe, in the opening chapter of this book, argued that any attempt to achieve good relations between people from different backgrounds in the absence of a serious push on equality is destined to fail. Access to employment and an income above the poverty level are arguably the most important aspects of social cohesion. The risk of poverty is five times greater among adults in workless households than among those in working households (Palmer et al, 2008). There is evidence that being in work is a key component of mental and physical wellbeing (Freud, 2008, p 5; The Prince’s Trust,...

    • ELEVEN New communities and social cohesion: third sector approaches to evaluation
      (pp. 227-242)
      Marjorie Mayo, Vaughan Jones and Juan Camilo Cock

      Given the book’s overall focus on ‘social cohesion’ – rather than the more limited approach that has been envisaged via government initiatives to promote ‘community cohesion’ – this chapter starts by arguing the case for the importance of active engagement to build social solidarity across the broadest possible range of civil society organisations. Having set out the case for the importance of third sector involvement overall, the chapter moves on to focus on third sector challenges in relation to evaluation, including those involved in the evaluation of community development-based initiatives and approaches that involve participative research strategies.

      Finally, the chapter...

    • TWELVE Evaluating the contribution of intergenerational practice to achieving social cohesion
      (pp. 243-258)
      Alan Hatton-Yeo and Clare Batty

      Intergenerational practice aims to bring people together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities which promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contributes to building more cohesive communities. Intergenerational practice is inclusive, building on the positive resources that the young and old have to offer each other and those around them. (Centre for Intergenerational

      This chapter seeks to place intergenerational practice (IP) within the context of recent social policy developments aimed to establish, or to strengthen, social cohesion at local and national levels. To do this, it begins by looking at the nature of IP and its place in...

  7. Part Four: Conclusion

    • THIRTEEN Conclusion: towards a theory of change for social cohesion
      (pp. 261-276)
      Ines Newman and Peter Ratcliffe

      In this conclusion we aim to do three things. First, we want pull together the chapters of this book into a theory of change (ToC) that can provide a new basis for the evaluation of social cohesion. Second, we want to highlight the problems with implementing this new approach as a result of the financial crisis and change of government. Finally, we want to end on an optimistic note and identify the levers that might help sustain a broader approach despite the difficulties.

      We started writing this book under a Labour government that had fetishised community cohesion and we were...