What is Being Done in the Name of Social Cohesion?
Some of the most compelling work currently being done in the name of social cohesion is undertaken under the auspices of the Council of Europe, formed in Post WWII. The Council of Europe’s Directorate General of Social Cohesion (DG III) among other things “develops interaction and synergies between the work of the Council of Europe in the field of social cohesion and other European, regional and universal actors in the field of social cohesion through targeted contacts and liaison with the competent services and bodies of the United Nations family, the OSCE, OECD, the World Bank and the European Union, taking into account the specific responsibilities of the DGAP ( Mandate >> COE).”
Definitions of social cohesion
“[S]ocial cohesion is measured by a society’s ability to tolerate dissonant values.” “The British sociologist Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading theorists on social cohesion in liberal democracies, points out that one of sociology’s most sacred tenets is that values are beliefs governing actions. He then explains that it is not shared values that primarily define a cohesive society. Rather, he says, it is the ability to tolerate dissonant values (Michael Valpy, 2013-01-01. “Canada’s new politics of discord could carry a heavy price.” The Star).”
“Jane Jenson (1998: 3) suggests that social cohesion became popular as a topic of discourse because it illuminates the interconnections between “economic restructuring, social change and political action.” Furthermore, Jenson notes that a cohesive society is assumed to be socially and economically optimal according to a range of governmental agencies and organisations like the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), and that a decline in cohesion represents a threat to the social order. However, it is worth noting that changes in social cohesion are considered to be much more than simply a threat to the economy (source ?).”
“Judith Maxwell (1996) considers the relationship between social cohesion and a range of social conditions that indicate when a society fails to function adequately. Maxwell (1996: 13) defines social cohesion as the sharing of values that reduce “…disparities in wealth and income” while giving people a sense of community. It is assumed from this definition that strongly cohesive societies are better able to face the challenges posed by social, economic and technological change. Many of the debates over new innovations in agricultural biotechnology pick up on this thread. We will now turn to the relationship between social cohesion and biotechnology by examining the challenges and opportunities posed by this technology to various actors (s0urce ?).”
Timeline of social events related to social cohesion
1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 in order to strengthen the protection of human rights at international level.
1949-05-05 Treaty of London, establishing the Council of Europe, signed by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. It “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” (dates >> COE)
1950-11-04 Signature in Rome of the Council’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – the first international legal instrument safeguarding human rights. (dates >> COE)
1954-12-19 Signature of the European Cultural Convention, forming the framework for the Council’s work in education, culture, youth and sport. (dates >> COE)
1956-04-16 Creation of the resettlement Fund (which is now the Council of Europe Development Bank), intended to help member States finance social projects. (dates >> COE)
1957-01-12 The Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (now the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe) set up by the Council of Europe, to bring together local and regional authority representatives. (dates >> COE)
1959-09-18 The European Court of Human Rights established by the Council in Strasbourg, under the European Convention on Human Rights, to ensure observance of the obligations undertaken by contracting states. (dates >> COE) (dates >> COE)
1961-10-18 The Council’s European Social Charter signed in Turin as the economic and social counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights. (dates >> COE)
1962 E Rogers, E. published Diffusion of Innovations.
1970 Michael Mann published “The Social Cohesion of Liberal Democracy”, American Sociological Review, Vol. 35, 1970. pp 423-439. Rep
1972-06-01 The Council’s first European Youth Centre is opened in Strasbourg (France). (dates >> COE)
1980-03-27 The Pompidou Group established by the Council as a multi-disciplinary forum for inter-ministerial co-operation against drug abuse and trafficking. (dates >> COE)
1989-06-08 Special guest status introduced by the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, to forge closer links with the parliaments of new member states moving towards democracy. (dates >> COE)
1990-04-30 The Council’s North/South Centre opened in Lisbon (Portugal). (dates >> COE)
1990-05-10 The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the “Venice Commission”) established by the Council to deal with legal guarantees on democracy. (dates >> COE)
1990-11-06 Accession of the first State from the former Soviet Block: Hungary. (dates >> COE)
1993-10-08 First Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government in Vienna (Austria) adopts a declaration confirming its pan-European vocation and setting new political priorities in protecting national minorities and combating all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. (dates >> COE)
1994-01-17 The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) set up by the Council’s Committee of Ministers to replace the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. (dates >> COE)
1996 Judith Maxwell presented a paper entitled “Social Dimensions of Economic Growth” as part of the Eric John Hanson Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Alberta in which she defined social cohesion as . . ..
1997-10-10 Second Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government, in Strasbourg (France). (dates >> COE)
1998 Jane Jenson published “Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research” as part of the Canadian Policy Research Networks, Ottawa.
1998-11-01 Single permanent European Court of Human Rights was established in Strasbourg under Protocol No. 11 to the Council’s European Convention on Human Rights, replacing the existing system. This is the only truly judicial organ established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It is composed of composed of one Judge for each State party to the Convention and ensures, in the last instance, that contracting states observe their obligations under the Convention. Since November 1998, the Court has operated on a full-time basis.” (dates >> COE)
2001-03-13 (I believe this is the first time the Directorate Generale published an article using the term social cohesion MFB 2008-03-11.) The Directorate General on Social Cohesion published its second issue of the electronic newsletter ” Social cohesion : developments ”. Children are the main theme of this issue. There is an article about the Final Conference of the Programme for Children that took place in Nicosia in November 2000. It also presents some NGOs that participated in the Forum for Children. Moreover, this newsletter introduces the new strategy for the protection of children in Romania and presents some of the main issues of the international conference on child labour exploitation. “‘Social Cohesion: Developments’ Newsletter: hits the newstands.” http://www.social.coe.int/en/cohesion/strategy/devunit.htm
2005-05-16 Third Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government, in Warsaw (Poland). (dates >> COE) “The current Council of Europe‘s political mandate was defined by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw in May 2005. It “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” (dates >> COE)
The Centre For Social Cohesion while claiming to be nonpartisan and free of ideological bias appears to be linked to ideologies that favour cohesion through homogeneity, business models and privatization.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. The current Council of Europe’s political mandate was defined by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw in May 2005. It “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” It is composed of 47 member countries and has a genuine pan-European dimension. The Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico are included as observer countries. The aims of the Council are: to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law; to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity; to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society: such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organised crime and corruption, cybercrime, violence against children; to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform (About >> COE).”
Directorate General of Social Cohesion (DG III): “The primary task of the Directorate General of Social Cohesion (DG III) is to foster social cohesion and to improve the quality of life in Europe for the genuine enjoyment of fundamental human rights and the respect of human dignity. The mandate of the Directorate is fulfilled through the promotion of European standards in the social and health field, the support of ethnic and cultural diversity, and the implementation of social development co-operation. The Directorate also seeks to develop multi-disciplinary and innovative policies and to give practical support to policy makers, professionals and field workers across Europe through its legal standard-setting instruments, ministerial conferences, intergovernmental committees and groups of experts who meet regularly (social cohesion >> COE).”
Webliography and Bibliography
Jenson, Jane. 1998. Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks.
Maxwell, Judith. 1996. “Social Dimensions of Economic Growth.” Eric John Hanson Memorial Lecture Series, Volume VIII, University of Alberta.
Rogers, E. 1962. Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
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