Social cohesion in context – perspectives from Africa

Veranstaltungsart
Workshop

Ort/Datum
Bonn, 15.11.2022 bis 16.11.2022

Veranstalter

German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)


Social cohesion (SoCo) is increasingly recognised as an important condition for the resilience of societies and the wellbeing of its members. At the same time, rising inequality, decreasing acceptance of hitherto shared societal values, as well as citizens’ growing discontent with public institutions suggest that social cohesion may be eroding in many societies. Thus, it is now more important than ever to understand the patterns of the “glue that holds societies together”. In order to gain such insights, it is first necessary to understand how different societies conceive social cohesion.  

The overarching objective of this workshop was to enhance our conceptual and empirical understanding of social cohesion in selected African countries. Having advanced the measurement of social cohesion and working primarily on cross-national comparisons, we are now devoting more attention of our research project to the contextualization of social cohesion in different settings. The question is how non-European societies conceptualize social cohesion. So far, the mainstream literature is still heavily influenced by the realities and currents of thought of European scholars (e.g. Durkheim). In this regard, this workshop discussed research results on relevant concepts of African country cases, and a comparison of them with the concept and measurement of social cohesion as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021 (“IDOS concept”).  Among the objectives, the workshop aimed to:

 

  • Detect commonalities and differences between concepts, and across African countries.
  • Detect conceptual dimensions from African countries that deviates from the main stream literature. 
  • Subsequently, it shall provide fresh insights to serve as a starting point for further conceptual developments and empirical analyses of SC in African contexts.

 

All together, the workshop brought together (co-)authors of seven (7) country case studies in Africa, scholars of social cohesion in Asia as well as all relevant partners of IDOS’ Social Cohesion project. The co-authors presented their findings from the respective country case as part of the comparative case study paper, “Exploratory analysis of localized concepts of social cohesion in selected African contexts.” Participants engaged in in-depth discussions of the research findings, as well as critical reflection on the findings in comparative perspectives to other regions with a particular focus on Asian contexts.

 

Enhancing conceptual and empirical understandings of social cohesion in non-European contexts

 

Moderator

  • Armin von Schiller, IDOS

 

Guiding questions: Why contextualization of social cohesion in different settings? Why compare localized concepts with the “IDOS concept and measurement” of social cohesion as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021?

Goal: Set the pace for the rationale of contextualizing social cohesion in different country contexts and the relevance of comparing localized concepts with the IDOS and the main stream “non-European/Western concepts” of social cohesion.

Content: This session was an introductory session meant to shine a spotlight on the background of the SoCo project and to serve as a platform to exchange on the relevance of the topic, particularly, the importance on the contextualization of social cohesion in Africa and Asia.

 

Literature review of African concepts of social cohesion: overarching results

  • Eli Wortmann-Kolundžija

 

Moderator

 

Guiding questions: What relevant concepts of social cohesion can be located in African societies? Which (if any) conceptual dimensions and insights about determinants of social cohesion deviate from the mainstream?

Goal: To gain a better sense of the academic discourses on social cohesion in Africa by analyzing the concepts, determinants, origins, and context of the social cohesion theories, as well as the risk of Western bias identified concepts of social cohesion in the African context.

Content: The role of traditional sources of knowledge in the study of social cohesion in Africa. African socialism and African humanism and their (potential) relevance for modern social cohesion studies. Determinants of social cohesion in the identified concepts.

 

Country cases - South Africa and Malawi

Guiding questions: What are related core concepts of origin from South Africa, Ivory Coast and Malawi that capture the key attributes of social cohesion (trust, inclusive identity, cooperation for the common good) as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021?  What are the main commonalities and differences between the concepts identified in the respective case study? Are the three attributes of the IDOS concept interpreted in the academic and public debates of your country? Do they add new ideas to the mainstream understanding of social cohesion in “Western” academic debates?

Goal: The goal here is to shed light on our understanding of the core concepts and main attributes of social cohesion as reflected in the respective country cases.

Content: Authors presented their findings from the respective country cases. The focus was on in-depth discussion and exchange that led to a collective constructive feedback with the spirit of how to advance and improve the measurement of social cohesion.

Timing: 40 minutes per country case (15 minutes for each presentation, 5 minutes for comments and 20 minutes for discussions)

 

Findings from South Africa

  • Fundiswa Khaile, School of Government, University of the Western Cape

 

Comments

 

Findings from Malawi

  • Joseph Chunga, Centre for Social Research, University of Malawi

 

Comments

 

Moderator

 

Findings from Ethiopia

  • Yitagesu Zewdu, National Democratic Institute

 

Comments

 

Findings from Ivory Coast

  • Francis Mbawini Abugbilla, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle

 

Comments

 

DAY 2

Country cases - Ghana, Guinea, and Rwanda

Guiding questions: What are related core concepts of origin from Ghana, Guinea and Rwanda that capture the key attributes of social cohesion (trust, inclusive identity, cooperation for the common good) as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021?  What are the main commonalities and differences between the concepts identified in the respective case study? Are the three attributes of the IDOS concept interpreted in the academic and public debates of your country? Do they add new ideas to the mainstream understanding of social cohesion in “Western” academic debates?
Goal: The goal here is to shed light on our understanding of the core concepts and main attributes of social cohesion as reflected in the respective country cases.
Content: Authors presented their findings from the respective country cases. The focus was on in-depth discussion and exchange that led to a collective constructive feedback with the spirit of how to advance and improve the measurement of social cohesion.
Timing: 40 minutes per country case (15 minutes for each presentation, 5 minutes for comments and 20 minutes for discussions). Note for Rwanda, 15 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for comments and 15 minutes for discussions.

Findings from the Ghanaian case

  • Ghadafi Saibu, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)

 

Comments

  • Eli Wortmann-Kolundžija

 

Findings from the Guinea case

  • Sagnane  Saïkou Oumar, University of Bayreuth

 

Comments

  • Kasper Vrjolik, IDOS

 

Findings from the Rwandan case

  • Peter Gutwa Oino, Department of Sociology, Gender & Development Studies,Kisii University

 

Comments

  • Erika Dahlmanns, Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence an der Universität Bayreuth  

 

Moderator

  • Daniel Nowack, IDOS
     

 

Beyond individual countries: regional perspectives

Guiding question

How do individual cases compare to other regions, and Afrobarometer’s understanding of social cohesion? What are related concepts of origin from other regions that capture the key attributes of social cohesion as outlined in Leininger et al. 2021? What are the main commonalities and differences of concepts identified in other regions compared to Africa?
Goal: The goal here is to compare the core concepts and attributes based on the findings from Africa to the Afrobarometer and to other regions, in particular Asia (South, East or Central) in order to improve our understanding of conceptual commonalities and differences across these regions. 

Content

Experts from other regions, including South, East and central Asia presented overviews and reflections of localized concepts of social cohesion in these regions. The focus was on broad review/presentation on how social cohesion is conceptualized in the respective societies. This was followed by in-depth discussion and exchange that led to a collective constructive feedback with the spirit of how to advance and improve the measurement of social cohesion.

Timing

40 minutes per each presenter (20 minutes for each presentation, and 20 minutes for discussions).

Overarching perspective: Afrobarometer’s understanding of social cohesion

  • Alfred Torsu, Afrobarometer

 

Reflections on Asian contexts

  • Klaus Boehnke, Professor of Social Science Methodology – Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS)

 

Social Cohesion in Modern China

  • Man Zhang, University of Leipzig & FGZ

 

Moderator

  • Ghadafi Saibu

 

Follow up: comparative analysis

Guiding question

What are the next steps towards a joint publication?
Goal

Identify the main insights and gaps and define the next steps towards a publication.

Content

Structured discussion (pinboards etc)

Moderator

  • Julia Leininger

Hinweis / Please note

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During our events photos and/or videos may be taken which may be published in various media for the purposes of documentation and PR activities. You have the right at any time to point out to the photographer or videographer that you do not want to be photographed or filmed.

Veranstaltungsinformation

Datum
15.11.2022 bis 16.11.2022

Ort

German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)
Tulpenfeld 6
D-53113 Bonn