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Thawilwadee Bureekul and Stithorn Thananithichot

Research from various countries demonstrates that trust builds social cohesion and conflicts may be solved as a result. Many alternatives for reconciliation in various countries have been studied and introduced to Thailand. However, the implementation of a reconciliation policy in Thailand seems to be impossible without having the atmosphere of peace building and specifically, trust building. This study aims to measure trust and discuss factors that may be problematic for establishing social cohesion, explaining why the process of reconciliation cannot be successful without trust building. The data from the Social Quality survey conducted by King Prajadhipok's Institute in late 2009 was used. This study finds that Thai society is still fragile because of the decreasing trust among people as well as confidence in various institutions, particularly political institutions.

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Social cohesion beyond borders

Does management of mining resources promote social cohesion and regional integration? Lessons from Canada and Mexico

Angeles Mendoza Sammet

English abstract: This contribution analyzes whether the transboundary use of mineral resources by Canadian companies contributes to local and regional cohesion. The analysis is based on documental reviews, a field visit, and conversations with stakeholders of Canadian mining projects in Mexico. The results strongly suggest that, despite the bene fits that are advertised in the discourses of the Canadian and Mexican governments, this economic relationship is not fostering social cohesion as would be expected. Rather than helping dispossessed sectors of Mexican society satisfy their basic needs, the lack of social responsibility on the part of national governments and some transnational mining companies is generating numerous environmental and social impacts and is resulting in violations of human and indigenous people's rights. This situation, however, is fostering social cohesion through shared values among dispossessed communities in Mexico, and between them and various civic, human rights, and environmental organizations in Canada.

Spanish abstract: Esta contribución analiza de qué forma el desarrollo de recursos mineros en México por empresas canadienses influye en la cohesión social local y regionalmente. El análisis se basa en revisión documental, visitas de campo y conversaciones con informantes clave. Los resultados fuertemente sugieren que esta relación comercial no está contribuyendo a mejorar la cohesión social como sería de esperarse si la minería contribuyera al desarrollo sustentable según lo promocionan los gobiernos de México y Canadá. En vez de contribuir a reducir la pobreza, se han generado diversos impactos sociales y ambientales debido a la falta de responsabilidad social que prevalece en el sector minero. Estos incluyen violaciones de derechos humanos y gentes indígenas. Sin embargo, estas consecuencias negativas están favoreciendo la cohesión social entre las comunidades afectadas por la minería en México y las organizaciones civiles en Canadá que están ejerciendo presión en Canadá para que haya cambios en el sistema político y legal para asegurar que las empresas canadienses operen de manera social y ambientalmente responsable.

French abstract: Ce e contribution entend voir de quelle manière l'utilisation transfrontalière des ressources minérales par des entreprises canadiennes contribuent à la cohésion locale et régionale. L'analyse se fonde sur l'examen des documents, une visite sur le terrain, et les interviews menées avec les parties prenantes des projets miniers canadiens au Mexique. Les résultats suggèrent fortement que, malgré les avantages formulés dans le discours des gouvernements canadien et mexicain, ce e relation économique ne conduit pas à la cohésion sociale comme on pourrait s'y attendre. Plutôt que d'aider les secteurs déshérités de la société mexicaine à satisfaire leurs besoins de base, le manque de responsabilité sociale de la part des deux gouvernements nationaux et certaines entreprises minières transnationales produit de nombreux impacts environnementaux et sociaux qui se traduisent par des violations des droits de l'homme des peuples indigènes. Ce e situation, cependant, favorise la cohésion sociale à travers des valeurs partagées entre les communautés dépossédées au Mexique, et entre eux et diff érentes organisations civiles défenseurs des droits de l'homme et environnementaux au Canada.

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No longer strong social cohesion

Lessons from two transboundary water conflicts in the Mexicali Valley, México

Alfonso Andrés Cortez-Lara

English abstract: This work examines the role of local stakeholders in managing transboundary and irrigation water in the Mexicali Valley. The analysis focuses on the impacts of institutions as they relate to two transboundary water conflicts, the salinity problem, and the All-American Canal lining divergence. The views of farmers and water managers show that farmers have lost social cohesion and economic and political power during the period in between these two episodes, which in turn reduced their role and influence in water management issues. During the salinity problem, unified and strong leadership and widespread participation were credited with influencing beneficial outcomes. On the other hand, the existence of opposing views regarding the All-American Canal lining conflict and weak leadership seem responsible for ineffective participation in solutions. The research illuminates the complexities of water management in transboundary settings and the role that local actors may play in increasing cooperation and regional integration.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo revisa el papel de los actores locales en la gestión y manejo de recursos hídricos transfronterizos y el riego en el Valle de Mexicali. El análisis enfatiza los impactos de los arreglos institucionales relacionados con dos conflictos por aguas transfronterizas, el problema de la salinidad del río Colorado y el revestimiento del Canal Todo Americano. Las percepciones de los agricultores y los gestores del agua indican que los agricultores han ido perdiendo cohesión social y poder económico y político lo cual ha reducido su papel e influencia en aspectos relacionados a la gestión de aguas transfronterizas. Durante el episodio de la salinidad, fue notoria la unificación y fortaleza de liderazgos que indujeron una significativa participación social. En contraste, la prevalencia de opiniones diversas respecto al conflicto del revestimiento conjugado con el frágil liderazgo redundó en una inefectividad de los usuarios para lograr impactos positivos. El artículo muestra la complejidad de la gestión transfronteriza del agua así como el papel clave que los actores locales pudieran tener para alcanzar la cooperación e integración regional.

French abstract: Ce travail examine le rôle des acteurs locaux dans la gestion des eaux transfrontalières et d'irrigation dans la Vallée de Mexicali. Ce e analyse se concentre sur l'impact des institutions dans la mesure où elles ont pris part à deux conflits sur l'eau, et traitent du problème de la salinité et des divergences sur le tracé du canal All-American. Les opinions des fermiers et des gestionnaires de l'eau révèlent que les fermiers ont perdu toute cohésion sociale ainsi que tout pouvoir politique et économique durant la période entre ces deux épisodes. Il en a résulté qu'ils ont de fait perdu leur rôle et leur influence dans les domaines de la gestion de l'eau. Au cours du problème de salinité, un leadership unifié et fort et une vaste participation ont été récompensés par d'excellents résultats. Mais de l'autre côté, l'existence de vues opposées dans le cadre du conflit sur le tracé du Canal All-American ainsi qu'un pauvre leadership ont vraisemblablement entraîné une participation inefficace lors de la recherche de solutions. Ce e étude met en lumière les complexités de la gestion de l'eau dans des cadres transnationaux, et le rôle que peuvent jouer les acteurs locaux dans l'augmentation de la coopération et de l'intégration régionale.

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Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

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.

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Ndangwa Noyoo

Social cohesion is a powerful force that has helped to change and reshape the political landscape of southern Africa in the last four decades. However, social cohesion is rarely factored into regional integration endeavors in this part of Africa, which are in the main, geared towards economic imperatives. With economic development as the primary objective of nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the assumption here seems to centre on the notion that once the region has been economically integrated, then human development would follow. This thinking is in line with the neo-liberal paradigm of “trickle down” economics which has not been very helpful to states of this region. Nonetheless, this lop-sided view of regional integration has a history.

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Virginia García Acosta

*Full forum is in Spanish

English abstract: This article explores the social cohesion-disaster risk reduction binomial. This is the continuation of previous publications, published both in Regions & Cohesion and in other places, aimed at examining available concepts that may be useful for the study of disasters and risk, their reduction and their prevention. The article reviews various definitions of social cohesion and disaster risk reduction to later explore the link between them by introducing associated notions such as solidarity and resilience. These are reflections that have nurtured the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) working group called “Social Construction of Risks and Disasters” and that, we hope, continue to nourish it.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo explora el binomio cohesión social-reducción de riesgos de desastre. Se trata de la continuación de ejercicios anteriores, publicados tanto en Regions & Cohesion como en otros espacios, dirigidos a examinar conceptos disponibles que puedan resultar útiles para el estudio de los desastres, del riesgo, de su reducción y prevención. El artículo revisa diversas definiciones de cohesión social y de reducción de riesgos de desastre para, posteriormente, explorar el vínculo entre ellas a partir de incorporar a la discusión nociones asociadas como solidaridad y resiliencia. Se trata de reflexiones que han nutrido al grupo de trabajo del Consorcio en Investigación Comparativa en Integración Regional y Cohesión Social (RISC, por sus siglas en inglés) denominado “Construcción social de riesgos y desastres” y que, esperamos, lo sigan nutriendo.

French abstract: Cet article explore le binôme cohésion sociale-réduction des risques de désastre. Il s’inscrit dans la continuité de publications antérieures parues dans Régions & Cohésion et dans d’autres espaces dans le but d’examiner les concepts disponibles qui pourraient être utiles pour l’étude des désastres et des risques, de leur réduction et de leur prévention. L’article révise plusieurs définitions de la cohésion sociale et de la réduction des risques de désastres pour explorer ensuite le lien entre elles à travers l’introduction de notions associées comme la solidarité et la résilience. Il s’agit de réflexions qui ont alimenté le groupe de travail du Consortium pour la recherche comparative sur l’Intégration régionale et la cohésion sociale nommé «Construction sociale des risques et des désastres » et qui, nous l’espérons, continueront à le nourrir.

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Social Quality of China

Indicators, Reality, and Problems

Li Wei and Cui Yan

China has entered a new phase of development. Living standards have significantly improved as the economy grows. Socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all strengthened, but the social quality level is not quite satisfactory. First, many think the low “social security” cannot provide sufficient protection. Second, low social trust and lack of social belief and value system greatly affect social cohesion. Third, to cope with social discrimination and realize better tolerance, social inclusion must be addressed. People have the strongest sense of unfairness for wealth and income gaps as well as right and entitlement differences between urban and rural areas. In addition, low political efficacy and low levels of social and political participation indicate weak social empowerment in China.

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European Network on Indicators of Social Quality

Summary of the Dutch National Report

Pia Steffens and Chris R. J. de Neubourg

This paper presents a first set of data for the theoretical elements that have been developed for Social Quality in the Netherlands. The four social quality conditional factors (Socio-economic Security, Social Cohesion, Social Inclusion and Social Empowerment) will be addressed in an individual paragraph. The last paragraph describes a recent policy initiative that is relevant from the perspective of Social Quality. Emphasis is placed on the fact that policy initiatives frequently constitute a trade off between different components of Social Quality and benefits and costs have to be weighed carefully.

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Neil Munro

This article examines willingness to join China's emerging green movement through an analysis of data from the China General Social Survey of 2006. A question asked about environmental NGO membership shows that while only 1 percent of respondents claim to be members of an environmental NGO, more than three-fifths say they would like to join one in future if there is an opportunity, slightly less than one-fifth reject the idea and the remainder are “don't knows.” The article tests explanations of willingness to join based on instrumentality, ideology, social identity and social capital networks. It finds that instrumental considerations dominate, although ideology, identity and networks contribute incrementally. The conclusion considers the usefulness of willingness to join as an indicator of social cohesion within the framework of a wider effort to evaluate social quality.

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Anne Fairweather, Borut Rončević, Maj Rydbjerg, Marie Valentová and Mojca Zajc

Social quality was first conceptualised and developed in the book ‘The Social Quality of Europe’ (Beck et al, 1997). This book, through a series of articles, develops the background to the concept and then produces a theoretical framework of social quality. Finally it critically assesses the possibilities for and problems with the concept. In the present paper, we first look at the concept of social quality itself. We then go on to examine the four components of social quality: socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion and empowerment. In each section on individual components the general conceptualisation of this component is discussed, and this is followed by a discussion of how it fits into the social quality quadrant. A number of issues are then identified, that will require further research.