This inaugural research study is a modest attempt to understand the nature of social cohesion within ASEAN against the changing and varying cultural and physical landscape in the region. Conducted under pandemic conditions, this study adapts the Social Cohesion Framework developed by the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation, which seeks to understand the level of cohesion in countries using quantitative methods.
It also taps into the perspectives of 1,000 thought leaders in Southeast Asia (100 from each country) to explore their views on social cohesion in their country and the region. The findings provide insights that could hopefully allow the various stakeholders to develop strategies and solutions to continue their efforts to strengthen social cohesion in their respective communities.
Perspectives from the Southeast Asian region based on the study were as follows:
The overall level of social cohesion in Southeast Asia was at 69%. This reflected the percentage of those who saw social cohesion overall as “strong”, with 13% seeing it as “weak”. However, within both the region and in each country, there was considerable variation across the three domains of social relations, connectedness and focus on the common good. This established a current benchmark figure, although it was not in itself an absolute indicator.
Of the three domains, social relations had the strongest influence on social cohesion in Southeast Asia, while the domain of focus on the common good had the least impact on social cohesion in the region.
Of the nine dimensions, there was a strong respect for social rules within the region. The dimensions of social networks, trust in people, acceptance of diversity, and identification, fared relatively equally. The dimension of solidarity and helpfulness seemed relatively less influential in determining social cohesion among the regional countries.
For more on the Southeast Asian Social Cohesion Radar, click here.