Community Cohesion

Community Cohesion and Global Movement of Populations

The alienation of specific communities or individuals within society is the most obvious breeding ground for civil unrest in whatever form it takes. Alienation has been a significant  characteristic of the recent British terrorism experience. This differs from the most recent experience in the US and to an extent in Russia, France and Spain; where terrorism has been more incursive in nature.

The specific nature of this type of terrorism in Britain needs to be challenged through challenging its causes - via community cohesion work and community engagement work - as well as fighting its effects via effective policing and other counter terrorism activities. Whether following a policy of multiculturalism or integration there is an essential recognition that society will need to be inclusive and better recognise and cater for 'difference' and provide access to its services and institutions.

Defining Community Cohesion

The nationally accepted definition of ‘community cohesion’ and first published in the English and Welsh Local Government Association 2002 'Guidance on Community Cohesion' is:

“A cohesive community is one where:

  • there is a common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities
  • the diversity of people’s different backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and positively valued
  • those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities
  • strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different backgrounds and circumstances in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods"

This gives a broad framework, but it is important to understand the causes of some people leading separate lives in communities, fearing or condemning diversity, or having unequal life opportunities.

Community Cohesion and Crime

The development of UK public policy about community cohesion was firmly placed within the crime and justice sphere. The historic reasons for this are related to the impact on public and political awareness that the race riots of 1958 (Notting Hill), of 1981 (Brixton) and of 2001 (Oldham, Burnley and Bradford). This crime related stimulation for public policy debate and development, coupled with the the standard  - xenophobic - response to the movement of populations, shunted the issues into a siding reserved for troublesome issues and the hard to resolve.

There is no doubt that, at the margins of community cohesion are alienation, youth crime and violent extremism (that is why this page appears in this area of the site and can be referenced to youth crime and especially to youth violent crime). However, community cohesion is essentially a social issue and not a criminal one.

Cohesion Links

Community Cohesion Guidance for Local Authorities

This guidance provides evidence and arguments that can be used by local authorities as a basis for mainstreaming or embedding community cohesion in other areas of service delivery and with other local organisations.

The Runnymede Trust: Community Cohesion

The Trust is a campaigning and research NGO specialising in 'multi ethnic policy issues'. This report deals with community cohesion.

Social Cohesion in Diverse Communities

This JRF study explores the relationships between new and established communities in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in Moss Side in Manchester and North Tottenham in London

East European Immigration and Community Cohesion  

A study profiling how their presence affects community cohesion.