Community Cohesion

The concept of community cohesion continues to be a topic of importance to me.  What is community cohesion?  Communities that demonstrate shared visions for its people, common goals for the future, equal voice for all, common respect for difference, and promote a sense of belonging for its citizens, tend to be cohesive.  People in a cohesive community “stick together”!

As I was reading about different notions around community cohesion, I found a “Guidance to Promote Community Cohesion” written as part of a mandate on race relations for the schools in Great Britain.  Its focus was on “community cohesion”.  I will offer these quotes from the guide:

By community cohesion, we mean working towards a society in which there is a
common vision and sense of belonging by all communities; a society in which the diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued; a society in which similar life opportunities are available to all; and a society in which strong and positive relationships exist and continue to be developed in the workplace, in schools and in the wider community

Most impressive to me is the explanation of why the British Department on Children, Schools, and Families wrote such a guide. These were actually words recited on the floors of Parliament in 2006!

Schools have a duty to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different groups.
Every school – whatever its intake and wherever it is located – is responsible for educating children and young people who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of cultures, religions or beliefs, ethnicities and social backgrounds.

Yes. This was 12 years ago.  I have not found further information to say if this “duty” continues to be recognized or enforced in British schools.  It’s just that I like the idea of  human diversity being valued for what it brings to communities.  Yes. The mainstream may be challenged to adjust, accommodate, and step outside its ethnocentrism, but an appreciation for plurality is key to community cohesion as the U. S. moves toward a pluralistic society by 2040, as suggested by the World Bank.

A sociologist friend of mine put it into perspective for me.  He said, “Boomers reached young adulthood in the 60s when White, middle class people were the majority, and immigration was at its lowest in the U. S.   Homogeneity was common for most communities.   Boomers, being born in the 40s, or so,  were too far away from the time when the U. S. was young and most were foreign born.  Remember, this country was “settled” by immigrants who displaced Native populations onto reservations in order to give the land to more settlers coming from Europe to grow a nation.

My point, and I do have one, is that when we find common ground with one another, we are more likely to live in a cohesive community.   How can we move toward cohesion?

The “guide” that I’ve discussed does have some suggestion on understanding the concept of community cohesion:

“Cohesion is therefore about how to:
  • avoid the corrosive effects of intolerance and harassment:
  • build a mutual civility among different groups, and
  • ensure respect for diversity alongside a commitment to common and shared bonds”

Again, I should tell you I live in a region of Kansas marked by Minority-majority schools and communities.  I love living, working, and playing in a region were I can experience coffees from Africa, foods from Asia, art from Latin America, and I can learn about other cultures.  I have found that some communities, in my region, have focused on integration of the different ethnicities and cultures.  Some have not.  Maybe, one day…



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