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  1. Social Cohesion: A Policy and Indicator Framework for Assessing Immigrant and Host Outcomes
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  4. The Group Effect: Social Cohesion and Health Outcomes

Sociologists and anthropologists have had a long interest in studying the ways in which cultures shaped different patterns of health, disease, and mortality. Social scientists have documented low rates of chronic disease and disability in non-Western societies and have suggested that social stability, cultural homogeneity and social cohesion may play a part in explaining these low rates.

On the other hand, in studies of Western societies, social scientists have found that disease and mortality assume different patterns among various ethnic, cultural and social-economic groups. The role of stress, social change and a low degree of cohesion have been suggested, along with other factors as contributing to the variable rates among different social groups. Social cohesion has been implicated in the cause and recovery from both physical and psychological illnesses.

Although there has been a large amount of work established the beneficial effects of cohesion on health and well-being, relatively little work has focused on HOW increased social cohesion sustains or improves health. This work is based on the premise that there are risk factors, including social cohesion that regulate health and disease in groups. One of the challenges is how to measure social cohesion — it can be readily observed and experienced but difficult to quantify.

A better understanding of how social cohesion works will be valuable to improving group-level interventions. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Social Sciences Sociology.

Free Preview. Although there have been many works linking health and well-being with social cohesion, little work has focused on how it improves well-being and health. Buy eBook. These issues have been recognised in New Zealand New Zealand Immigration Service and the question of positive settlement outcomes for migrants, refugees and their families, as well as enhancing host society institutions and outcomes, has emerged as an important policy objective.

Government can, and does, influence social cohesion in a number of ways, including human rights legislation, investment in social development and shaping immigration policy. From a New Zealand government perspective, there is a need for greater understanding and monitoring of the impact of settlement policy on outcomes for migrants and their families, and the wider community. However, they do not identify the causes of those outcomes or changes.

There is also a lack of quality and detail in administrative information about the situation of various immigrant groups. Two tasks emerge from this situation. The first is to develop a robust and pragmatic rendering of social cohesion as a social policy goal, and the second is to develop an appropriate indicator framework that would provide the evidence base for understanding the post-arrival pathways and outcomes for both immigrant and host.

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Jenson also suggests that these positive attributes of cohesion are often complemented by reference to negative variables such as isolation, exclusion, non-involvement, rejection and illegitimacy as examples and perceptions of the absence of cohesion Jenson Beauvais and Jenson combine an interest in social cohesion with social capital and underline the interactive elements of:.

Social cohesion is not unidirectional but interactive. Policy implications and the measurement of cohesion depend on how the concept is defined. As Beauvais and Jenson point out, each of these elements could be linked or they could be freestanding, with each having different implications.

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Social Cohesion: A Policy and Indicator Framework for Assessing Immigrant and Host Outcomes

If common values and civic culture are the lens through which cohesion is understood, then attempts will be made to measure the fragmentation and weakening of values and a policy intervention may entail a strategy that promotes common values. If social order and social control is the focus, then the concern may be with the consequences of exclusion and the perceived legitimacy of the system.

Economic concerns and issues of redistribution would dominate the policy and measurement focus of the third element, whereas networks and embeddedness would dominate the fourth. The fifth element is concerned with the connections to a place and its institutions in a broad sense. In those constituencies that have engaged in a policy-related debate about the links between social cohesion and immigration Canada, the European Union, the OECD, and the United Kingdom in particular there are some interesting — and significant — international differences.

In Canada, social cohesion was identified as a central policy issue with regard to immigration in the mids, and significant resources were directed to developing an adequate policy response see Jeanotte , Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology By the late s social cohesion was defined as:. By , the language had changed significantly.

Social cohesion was aligned with discussion about social capital and with shared citizenship. By , social cohesion still had government resources attached to the project of defining what it meant and how it might be measured, but it was no longer a key policy lens, except as a high level policy ambition. The language of social cohesion had been replaced by the goal of shared citizenship and an interest in social capital Policy Research Initiative The European Union, Council of Europe and OECD have also invested a considerable amount of resource in the notion of social cohesion and how it might be measured.

Jeanotte notes:. The OECD had the narrowest implicit definition of social cohesion, focusing almost exclusively on the economic and material aspects of the concept. The Council of Europe, on the other hand, had an extremely broad definition of cohesion — so broad, in fact, that it had separated cohesion into three interrelated categories — democratic cohesion, social cohesion and cultural cohesion.

Jeanotte 3. Jeanotte identifies four characteristic perspectives that include:.

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In parallel with the Canadian perspective, however, there has been a tendency to use social capital as either equivalent to, or as a subset of, social cohesion. As the European System of Social Indicators argues:. Social cohesion is based on social capital … which is also created by social relations and ties established, maintained and experienced by individuals.

Berger-Schmitt Inclusion is a two way process of adaptation and adjustment on the part of immigrants and minorities and the larger society, thus requiring the active involvement of all stakeholders.


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Council of Europe The Council of Europe reinforces this perspective by defining cohesion as a mixture of political, social and economic forms of cohesion that reflect concerns about exclusion and inclusion. In the United Kingdom, the debate concerning social cohesion and immigrants has been recently defined by the work of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain Parekh Cohesion in such a community derives from a widespread commitment to certain core values, both between communities and within them; equality and fairness; dialogue and consultation; tolerance, compromise, and accommodation; recognition and respect for diversity; and — by no means least — determination to confront and eliminate racism and xenophobia.

Parekh The Parekh definition fits with the earlier Canadian interpretation with a strong emphasis on a sense of belonging. In the United Kingdom, as in Canada and the European Union, specific organisations have been either established to distil and disseminate understanding about social cohesion or have taken on this role. The international literature Vertovec , Beauvais and Jenson , Jenson , Maxwell , Papillon and van der Leun raises some key issues about building social cohesion in the context of expanding cultural and ethnic diversity.

In particular, there are questions around:. There is also discussion in the international literature about social cohesion as a policy goal for governments. A number of themes emerge from this literature that describe the various policy dimensions of social cohesion, including shared values and participation, systemic and individual barriers, spatial separation and exclusion, social capital and integration. Shared values and interaction particularly economic interactions are seen as critical to building cohesion, as are opportunities to engage in the core institutions of society.

These provide avenues through which migrants can gain access to resources and the positive outcomes that they provide. Social cohesion involves building shared values and communities of interpretation, reducing disparities in wealth and income, and generally enabling people to have a sense that they are engaged in a common enterprise, facing shared challenges, and that they are members of the same community. Maxwell The policy implications of this perspective on cohesion relate to the quality of civic participation and the potential for civic unrest where collective civic goals are not generally supported , the accessibility of infrastructure and services to all, and the demand for welfare services where participation and inclusion are not equitably available.

It also emphasises the importance of labour markets and economic engagement as a route to cohesion through economic participation. The systemic and individual barriers faced by immigrants or new settlers include particular forms of indifference and discrimination. There are different ways in which new settlers come to feel part of a community after arrival. There is an expressional or subjective dimension of being part of a community or society, which relates to the acceptance of identity and individuality.

There is also a functional dimension of incorporation in which the labour market and other public domain activities are often central van der Leun The wellbeing of immigrants and their families depends on the contribution of both the expressional and functional aspects.

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In policy terms, formal recognition of migrant skills and qualifications not only ensures better employment outcomes and work-related integration for migrants but also increases migrant perception of the legitimacy of the social institutions in the host country. Confidence in institutional arrangements in the host country in turn contributes to greater participation and inclusion.

Immigrants frequently congregate in particular cities, or specific areas of a city, in response to knowledge and family or community ties that are established by earlier migrant streams as well as a product of various policies and behaviours by host communities and gatekeepers. Local urban management, employment and housing policies in particular, may seek to address issues of spatial separation and exclusion for migrant groups. The spatial concentration of immigrants may not necessarily be a problem: it may contribute to the creation of social networks and facilitate access to employment; but it may also, when combined with poverty, become an explosive mix, leading directly to the social exclusion of future generations.

Papillon iii.

The Group Effect: Social Cohesion and Health Outcomes

The management of urban spaces is an essential dimension of sustainable diversity: urban policies conducive to social sustainability must build bridges among people of diverse origins and create the conditions for the full inclusion of immigrants into neighbourhood life, the labour market, and the cultural life of the city. Papillon The policy implications relate to perceptions of migrant populations concentrated in specific areas that are deemed problematic by either the host or the migrant community.

They also relate to the distribution of services and what happens to migrants who live in areas other than where most new settlers are living. Social capital is arguably a prerequisite to social cohesion because social cohesion requires high levels of cooperative social interaction amongst citizens, groups and institutions, based on trust and respect.

In the European Union, OECD and Canada, social capital has recently been defined as a critical factor in contributing to social cohesion. Social capital indicators contribute to understanding social cohesion and migrant settlement through their focus on:. In the United Kingdom, government intervention to promote social capital is justified by arguments about equity and efficiency. Interventions to promote social capital directly or indirectly may help reduce negative externalities i. Social capital may also contribute to improving information flows, therefore reducing transaction costs.

Governments can also promote a fair distribution in such a way that access to high-quality social capital i. Reduced access to certain forms of social capital by certain groups may negatively affect social mobility and reinforce social inequities. Policy Research Initiative Ministry of Social Development a. One important reason for incorporating social capital into social cohesion policy frameworks is to acknowledge the network and relational issues that accompany the selection and incorporation of immigrants who have been chosen largely on skill and economic investment grounds.

The narrowly defined Homo economicus has proven to be unable to account for many aspects of the network-driven and network-generating processes of international migration… van der Leun Social capital is seen to be most often applied to the latter Portes , van der Leun An expression of social capital is provided by civic participation, which encompasses political involvement, giving, volunteering, and engagement in work-related organisations unions, professional associations , sports and recreational organisations, religious organisations, community or school-related groups, cultural, educational and hobby-related groups, or service clubs and fraternal organisations Schugurensky Civic participation results in a variety of personal and social benefits, including individual wellbeing, important democratic capacities, lower crime and educational achievement Schugurensky Caution needs to be voiced in relation to the sometimes ambiguous outcomes of some forms of social capital and some measures of social cohesion.

There is a perception that the dense forms of social relations and local trust that exist within the migrant community may build relational embeddedness and local social capital for the migrant group but not necessarily be seen to contribute to social cohesion in a wider context. Functional embeddedness — facilitated through participation in the labour market in particular — is often approved by the host community because it appears more likely to enhance social cohesion through the widening of social and economic networks between host and migrant groups.

The capacity of migrant communities to develop dense social relations can be see to lead to segregation as much as to social cohesion. In models that describe these alternative outcomes in migrant communities, the onus of social capital building is often seen to fall on the migrant community rather than on the complex interplay between host and migrant community interactions. There is an implicit presumption that dense intra-migrant social capital building produces unequal rates of human capital formation and therefore may be less desirable than inter-group networking that produces higher rates of human capital spillovers Friessen In a polarised typology like this, the complex relationships between host and migrant community are likely to be overlooked or simplified as stereotypes that do not represent the nuanced social dynamics that take place between the two forms of community interaction.

Figure 1 suggests this unidirectional understanding of social capital. The final theme in the international literature is integration, which can be seen in some ways as an older variant of a social cohesion focus. Integration has been interpreted in different ways according to both historical period and location and, in its broadest form, includes assimilation, notions of a melting pot and various forms of cultural pluralism.

In current usage, integration is seen to be distinct from the older discourses of assimilation or pluralism. The term reflects the recognition that heterogeneity is a permanent phenomenon in societies.

It assumes that different social groups influence each other reciprocally and that together they create the national space in which all participants are citizens with equal rights and civic unity is promoted but not at the expense of ethnic diversity. The discourse nominally endorses cultural diversity but views specific cultural differences as a threat.