European inventory of
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Vollhardt, J.K., Migacheva, K., Tropp, L.R. (2009). Social Cohesion and Tolerance for Group Differences. In: de Rivera, J. (eds) Handbook on Building Cultures of Peace. Peace Psychology Book Series. Springer, New York, NY

Issues of tolerance, understanding, solidarity, and social cohesion represent a key foundation for building cultures of peace (United Nations 1999). Tolerance and understanding ensure that perceived differences in group membership, values, or lifestyle do not result in discrimination and violence (Vogt 1997), whereas social cohesion and solidarity connote a sense of enhanced unity, democracy, and civic participation (Moody and White 2003; Putnam 2000).

Though often discussed together, there is a potential antagonism involving the societal consequences of tolerance and social cohesion. Specifically, social cohesion is often achieved and strengthened through destructive means, such as by developing an external enemy or creating an internal scapegoat. Attempts to promote social cohesion can therefore result in decreased tolerance for differences within a society and even lead to the exclusion of groups who do not represent the internal standard or who are depicted as the internal enemy. Thus, the main question of this chapter is: How can social cohesion be achieved in a way that it is not exclusive and destructive, but rather inclusive and constructive (see Valsiner, this volume), thereby effectively contributing to a culture of peace?

Johanna K. Vollhardt, Katya Migacheva & Linda R. Tropp – Social Cohesion and Tolerance for Group Differences