Defining Social Cohesion Research Design and Indicators

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 12 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Dolgion ALDAR, Independent Research Institute of Mongolia, Mongolia
Bold TSEVEGDORJ, Independent Research Institute of Mongolia, Mongolia
Despite the extensive use of social cohesion research in recent years, little attention has been paid to its use and conditions in developing and transitional societies. Therefore, this study complements the researches to date of social cohesion which tend to focus on world’s richest countries.

The case of Mongolia appears particularly interesting. With its ‘most remarkable political transformations’ (Fish 1998, 127), rapid economic growth ‘faster than any other in the next decade’ fuelled mostly by the mining sector (The Economist 2012) and deteriorating social conditions and modernisation process far from being complete (Oleinik 2012, 3), Mongolia serves as a natural laboratory for social scientists.

This paper attempts to define a valid, reliable and robust measurement of social cohesion based on a framework that is comparable across societies, in the case of Mongolia. In this respect, modern social and policy theories and frameworks related to social cohesion are compared, assessed and a set of indicators were selected. The bases for this selection and definition of social cohesion were the following:

  • Minimal in scope
  • Close to ordinary usage
  • Allowing to test a series of hypotheses and can be tested empirically
  • Free from researchers’ subjective values and judgements
  • Clear and separate from causes and outcomes of social cohesion

As a result, a total of three elements that constitute social cohesion were selected:  

1) Belonging and interdependence

  • Sense of belonging and shared values
  • Recognition vs rejection
  • Belief to achieve collective goals through cooperation

2) Trust

  • Particularised trust
  • Generalised trust
  • Trust in political institutions

3) Cooperation

  • Voluntary work
  • Involvement in civil society
  • Involvement in political institutions

This framework and set of indicators allow to determine the state and change of social cohesion at macro level of society. It can measure both horizontal and vertical as well as subjective and objective cohesion.