From GDP to Well-Being. Economics on the Road to Sustainability location:Ancona (I) date:3-5 December 2009
In recent years, various attempts have been undertaken to develop a single comprehensive social cohesion indicator that could be used to monitor progress toward achieving cohesive societies. However, according to sociological theory, contemporary modern society should function according to a different type of social cohesion than traditional societies used to do. Both from a theoretical as from a methodological perspective, it can be questioned whether there is indeed one single concept of social cohesion. In this article we develop social cohesion indicators for local communities (n=308) in the region of Flanders (Belgium), including elements as social exclusion, poverty and unemployment, crime, religious practice, associational life, and education rates. A series of factor analyses demonstrate that all these indicators that are mostly based on official government sources, can be reduced to two distinct dimensions of social cohesion. While the modern form of social cohesion is typically found in the urban centres of the Flemish region, a more traditional form of social cohesion is still found on the rural countryside. To conclude, we discuss the implications of these findings for the development of a single comprehensive social cohesion indicator.