Social Cohesion: Theoretical Debates and Practical Applications with Respect to Jobs


This paper reviews the sociological and related literatures to provide insights regarding social cohesion, including its unpredictability. Apparently some cohesive societies have erupted in violent conflict, and the public systems that one would expect to manage these potential conflicts have at times reinforced them. Simultaneously, some of the “pessimism” of classic sociology about decline of social cohesion, notably in the context of great transformations such as urbanization and industrialization, has not proved justified. Social structures exhibit much resilience, communities have the capacity to regenerate, and particularistic group identities do not necessarily fail in compatibility with other and broader forms of integration and identity. The social arena of work relates to social cohesion in extremely complex ways; for example, social networks can both enable and limit opportunities for work, and work can enhance networks and sharing of values beyond narrow communities. The links between jobs and cohesion are multi-faceted; in industrial society they clearly relate to an individual’s social status, relative wealth, and power relations. The existence of good jobs, perceived as fairly distributed, must be a central component of social cohesion and take into account the political context.


Norton, A.; De Haan, A. Social Cohesion: Theoretical Debates and Practical Applications with Respect to Jobs. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA (2012) ii + 38 pp.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.