National Values and Social Cohesion – University of Copenhagen

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National Values and Social Cohesion

Conference at Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen, 4-6 October, 2017

Western liberal democracies are generally experiencing increasing levels of ethnic and religious diversity. And increases in diversity are accompanied by worries about, e.g., parallel societies, terrorism, nationalism and whether diversity is compatible with redistribution in the form of a robust welfare state. Very often, such worries are framed as concerns about social cohesion. Furthermore, public policies and debates reflect a desire to promote social cohesion in response to challenges perceived to be due to diversity. More specifically, political responses have centred on the aim of preserving/fostering a sense of community, often in the form of shared values or a national identity that may unify citizens and establish the attachments required for e.g. trust and solidarity at the societal level. But does social cohesion really require or depend on shared values? And if yes, are some values more conducive to social cohesion than others? Here, political theorists disagree on the nature of the values required, with nationalists emphasizing the sharing of a national culture, republicans the shared rights and duties of citizens, liberals a shared commitment to basic principles of liberty and equality, and multiculturalists a shared commitment to the recognition of difference. However, these claims about the impact of values on social cohesion have only been tested empirically to a limited extent. In this conference, the philosophical, political and empirical assumptions behind the claim that shared values / a national identity fosters social cohesion will be scrutinized from a range of different academic disciplines.

Read about the speakers and the full programme here.