Some Preliminary Considerations about Social Cohesion and Social Quality

in Volume 3 (2001): Issue 1-2 (Nov 2001): Citizenship and Welfare Protection. Guest Editor: François Nectoux

The recently published report by Wolfgang Beck exploring the role of social cohesion in European policies (Beck, 2001) is of interest for the European Foundation on Social Quality. Indeed, in the Foundation second book, ‘Social Quality: A Vision for Europe’, the analysis of social cohesion is seen as a priority in the strengthening of the theoretical basis of social quality (Beck et al., 2001). The editors of this last book emphasise the fact that defining the substance of social cohesion is a delicate matter. Because of its long scientific and political history the concept has been, up to now, connected with a wide range of other concepts with related connotations, such as inclusion, exclusion, integration, disintegration, and social dissolution. Contrary to many studies on social cohesion, the way they approach social cohesion as one of the four components of social quality is not restricted to the strength or weakness of primary social relationships (Lockwood, 1999). It is connected with processes of differentiation, which create a manifold of subsystems that cannot be directly linked as such with the logic of social structures such as families, households and associations. As a result the individual subject is forced to react in a multi-inclusive way. This is becoming now even more complex since, because of the explosive development of communication technologies, the pace and place of social relationships are changing. (Beck et al., 2001: 343) In this contribution we will present some elements of Beck’s report and we shall connect these with herewith-related parts of the Foundation’s second book.