Westend61 / Caiaimage / Sam Edwards

Social Cohesion: What makes our society strong

Westend61 / Caiaimage / Sam Edwards

Sometimes you only need to look at the Internet to see that society is divided. Into different camps, between which the exchange quickly escalates, at least on a verbal level. Opinions that seem more and more irreconcilable and become fronts. But hostility does not only occur in the anonymity of the Internet. It also occurs in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. Politicians who take a public stand in their official capacity increasingly face open violence.

When the willingness to engage in dialogue ends and differences of opinion turn into hatred, it affects us all: it endangers democratic coexistence. What can we do about it? There are encouraging approaches in all the areas we support - and this dossier is about those approaches. A wide variety of actors show how they strengthen social cohesion, and what can emerge when people stay in touch even under difficult conditions. 

We look at how people with very controversial opinions can discuss without getting into conflict. Why teachers in schools across Germany are concerned about cohesion - and why they have started an initiative to address the issue. We look beyond Germany to post-civil war societies, where the question of social cohesion between population groups is particularly fundamental. And to Ukraine, where courageous activists are trying to maintain social cohesion in their war-torn country.

Our experts

Oleksandr Shevchenko

Oleksandr Shevchenko is co-founder of the ReStart initiative, which is working on a plan to sustainably rebuild destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine.

Evgeniya Sayko

Managing Director and Co-founder of MAGNET – Werkstatt für Verständigung. Evgeniya Sayko developed the demoSlam format.

Frank Ahrens

Principal of the Waldparkschule community school in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg.

Susanne Gehlen

Principal of the Genoveva High School Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Thilo Engelhardt

Principal of the Waldparkschule community school in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg.
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