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Between Community and Society: Investigating the Dimensions of Social Cohesion Sarah Botterman Marc Hooghe Tim Reeskens Department of Political Science,

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Presentation on theme: "Between Community and Society: Investigating the Dimensions of Social Cohesion Sarah Botterman Marc Hooghe Tim Reeskens Department of Political Science,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Between Community and Society: Investigating the Dimensions of Social Cohesion Sarah Botterman Marc Hooghe Tim Reeskens Department of Political Science, Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) IX th ISQOLS Conference, Firenze, July 2009 An Empirical Study on Social Cohesion Indicators of Belgian Communities

2 Are comprehensive social cohesion indicators possible? 1.Strong policy need for comprehensive indicators, in order to monitor progress toward social cohesion 2.Theoretical challenge: is there a single social cohesion concept that can be applied in various settings? 3.Methodoligical challenge: do social cohesion indicators relate to a single latent concept?

3 Specific case: Belgium Project: Social Cohesion Indicators Flanders (SCIF), Flemish autonomous regions in Belgium (pop=6,000,000) 308 municipalities, with own social and political competences

4 Is there one concept of social cohesion? Traditional distinction between community and society: traditional societies rely on different forms of social cohesion than modern societies Durkheim (1893): mechanical solidarity is being replaced by organic solidarity in modern societies Social cohesion includes various dimensions (Kearns/Forrest) - Civic culture - Equality/exclusion - Social capital - social control - identity

5 Research question Is it possible to summarize these various dimensions into one comprehensive social cohesion indicator? Is this methodologically and theoretically valid? Data and methods: Community level indicators on municipalities (n=308) in Flanders, SCIF dataset Methods: 1st and 2nd order factor analysis

6 Operationalization and reduction of dimensions 1. Common values: operationalized as religious participation, religious belonging to the local community Data source: Catholic Church of Belgium, church counts IndicatorFactor Loading Baptism ratio (/births)0.725 Religious marriage ratio (/all marriages)0.695 Funeral ratio (/deceased)0.681 Church attendance ratio (/adult population)0.674 Eigenvalue1.928 Cronbach’s α0.779

7 IndicatorViolent crime Property crime Car theft Theft from vehicles0.882 Burglary0.671 Vandalism cars Vandalism material goods0.708 Destruction and damaging0.435 Intentional assault and battery0.761 Eigenvalue Cronbach’s α - Pearson correlation Social order Operationalization: crime figures Ratio: /1000 inhabitants Source: Belgian Federal Police Result: TWO factors

8 IndicatorEconomic development Deprivation Income inequality0.878 Births in underprivileged families0.568 Percentage on welfare benefit0.586 Long term unemployed0.839 Unemployment rate0.927 Higher education0.889 Eigenvalue Cronbach’s Income/inequality Source: National Institute Statistics Result: TWO factors

9 4. Social capital Only one indicator available for all 308 municipalities: number of voluntary associations/1000 inhabitants (Need for further development of operationalization of this dimension)

10 Result of factor analysis 1.Shared norms: one factor religious involvement 2.Social control: factor violent crime 3.Social control: factor property crime 4.Exclusion: factor economic development 5.Exclusion: factor deprivation 6.Social capital: indicator associations  Will be used for second order factor analysis

11 Modern cohesion Traditional cohesion Religion0.603 Absence of violent crimes0.708 Absence of property crimes0.668 Economic Development Absence of deprivation0.865 Share of associations0.617 Eigenvalue Cronbach’s α Second order factor analysis

12 Results 1.Dimensions cannot be reduced to one comprehensive social cohesion indicator: two different dimensions Dimension 1: low deprivation, low on violent crime, high level of economic development  modern social cohesion Dimension 2: low on property crimes, religious participation, voluntary associations  traditional social cohesion Can these dimension be applied to the Flemish region?

13 1. Traditional Social Cohesion High in Eastern and Western rural periphery; Low in urban centre of the region (Brussels/Antwerp).

14 2. Modern Social Cohesion High near Brussels and Ghent; low in Eastern periphery

15 Result Strong variation within Flemish region: social cohesion indicators can be applied to local communities Traditional social cohesion in rural societies; modern social cohesion in urban centre surrounding Brussels Next question: are there communities that are high (or low) on both dimensions?

16 Scatterplot on both dimensions Traditional Social Cohesion Modern Social Cohesion Q1: High traditional & modern Q2: Low traditional, high modern Q3: High traditional, lox modern Q4: low tradional, low modern Q1 Q3 Q2 Q4

17 Distribution of dimensions High social cohesion mainly in richer suburbs of Brussels and Ghent; lowest in former industrial cities, port of Antwerp… No generally deprived regions

18 Discussion 1.Social cohesion indicators can be developed for Belgian communities 2.Need to combine various data sources 3.Sufficient variation, even in homogeneous and small region like Flanders 4.Not a single comprehensive social cohesion indicator 5.Two different dimensions, modern and traditional, in line with Durkheim’s theory on modern societies 6.Next question: are both dimensions incommensurable? Does ‘progress’ automatically implies that traditional social cohesion is weakened?


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