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Urban Consolidation

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Urban Consolidation

Factors and Fallacies in Urban Consolidation:


As proponents of urban consolidation and consolidated living continue
to manifest in our society, we must ensure that our acknowledgment of
its benefits, and the problems of its agitator (sprawl), do not hinder
our caution over its continually changing objectives.


Like much urban policy, the potential benefits that urban consolidation
and the urban village concept seek to offer are substantially
undermined by ambiguous definition. This ambiguity, as expressed
through a general lack of inter-governmental and inter-professional
cohesion on this policy, can best be understood in terms of individual
motives (AIUSH,1991).

* State Government^s participatory role in the reduction of
infrastructure spending.

* Urban Professional^s recognition of the increased variability,
robustness, and interest in both the urban area and their work.

* Conservation Activist^s commendation of the lower consumption of
resources, and reduced pressure on sensitive environment areas,
suggestive of a reduction in urban sprawl.

* The Development Industry^s equations of profit established through
better and higher levels of land use.

Essentially urban consolidation proposes an increase of either
population or dwellings in an existing defined urban area
(Roseth,1991). Furthermore, the suburban village seeks to establish
this intensification within a more specific agenda, in which community
is to be centred by public transport nodes, and housing choice is to be
widened with increased diversity of housing type (Jackson,1998). The
underlying premise of this swing towards urban regeneration, and the
subsequent debate about higher-density development, is the
reconsideration of the suburban ideal and the negative social and
environmental implications inherent in its continuation (Johnson,
1994). In reference to this regeneration is the encouragement of
greater community participation, a strengthening and broadening of
urban life and culture, and a halt to physical, environmental and
economic decline (Hill,1994).

Myths and Misunderstanding

The relative successes of practical solutions to the urban
consolidation model are constrained within the assumptions underpinning
them. Appropriating community desire towards a more urban lifestyle
ignores the basic fact that people chose to live in the suburbs
(Stretton,1975). Suburbia as an ideal, is a preference based on
perpetual stability, be it though neighbourhood identity or the act of
home ownership ^ a view not reflected in planning models heavily biased
towards highly mobile societies.

Cost benefits deemed to be provided by higher-density living, in terms
of more efficient use of infrastructure, are realized primarily in the
private sectors (Troy,1998). A result inconclusive to State government
objectives towards reduced public spending.

Traffic reduction as an expressed direct result of higher-density
residential living is largely incorrect. A falsehood achieved by using
density as a substitute for sociological variables such as income,
household size, and lifestyle characteristics (Moriarty,1996). Traffic
reduction stems primarily from a decision to drive (Engwight,1992), a

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Essay on Urban Consolidation - Urban Consolidation Factors and Fallacies in Urban Consolidation: Introduction As proponents of urban consolidation and consolidated living continue to manifest in our society, we must ensure that our acknowledgment of its benefits, and the problems of its agitator (sprawl), do not hinder our caution over its continually changing objectives. Definition Like much urban policy, the potential benefits that urban consolidation and the urban village concept seek to offer are substantially undermined by ambiguous definition....   [tags: essays papers]
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Related Searches

Consolidation         Urban         Urban Area         Public Transport         State Government         Land Use         Urban Sprawl         Suburban         Caution         Participatory        

contributing factor not easily adjustable by urban planning alone.

Overemphasis of the contribution inner-city urban renewal has towards
urban sprawl has allowed the prolongation of unchecked urban fringe
development. The recurrence of the ^parcel-by-parcel (Girling,1994)^
distribution of new suburban development has not received the same
amount of active participation, or concerted research and development,
as governments have generated in existing urban areas.

Solutions in Themselves.

Too often the priority of consolidated land use is defined solely by
density and cost analysis of infrastructure (Danielsen,1998). This
produces a lack in qualitative understanding of the initial, highly
humanitarian, aspects that consolidated living curtailed. It is in this
vein that consequential detriments such as physical encroachment and
overcrowding, unsympathetic housing styles (AIUSH,1991), and increased
gentrification of urban areas inexplicably occur. In such, planning
seems to produce solutions to symptoms, rather than address the issues
which cause them.

Critical design failure arises from superficial viewpoints on such
fundamentals as neighbourhood and community (Mack,1977). In such the
built form dubiously grounds itself on place making, removed from the
reality that people are the essential component of the place

The only way in which adequate understanding, of actual community
desires and obligations, can emerge is through active public
consultation, and heavy local government involvement. Public
consultation for the sake of public consultation is not only
insignificant, but unjust. Non-desirable political gains may include;

* Participation to inform (pre-warn) citizens of intended action.
* Participation to organise ^Ñvoluntary^Ò campaigns and work.
* Participation to stall and combat organised opposition.
* Participation to secure reliable feedback.(Kirk,1980)

It is often the case where public consultation is involved in the
plan-making process after a limited range of options have been
clarified. Consequently the beneficial possibilities arising from the
integration of the higher-density objective into collective public
attitude, where an autonomous solution can be reached, is denied.
Instead, objections towards urban renewal and consolidated initiatives
are easily allied due to counter-emotive arguments not resolved by
cooperative harmonisation of goals.

Economic rationale biased to higher-residential densities does not
recognise the potential for other (traditional) measures of
consolidated efficiencies (AIUSH,1991). Planning resolutions involving
such aspects as lot frontage, have been disregarded, and may provide a
far greater measure of public transport, and urban village success.

Who is to blame?

The articulation of blame is a misrepresentation of the problems
inherent with urban policy in general. Holistically, everyone is, in
part, responsible. However, the futility of the current organisational
strategies is not to be excused.

Governments and community response has generally been short term
(BCC,1996). The reasoning is simple and two tier; State and Federal
Governments are elected primary on short term contracts, whereas Local
Governments and community organisations maintain a more stable,
continuing set of goals and motivations (Petrulis,1998); Local
Government and community organisations have, as a rule, substantially
less authority over public policy, and a definite underrepresented
amount of public funding (Alexander,1998).

Policy that is continually directed top-down is to blame. The
misdirection of federally derived funds, through State legislature is
stretching the ethical margins, and challenging its moral obligations
as a public service provider not a provider for the public-service.

The State Governments were able to appropriate the rhetoric of social
justice and environmental sustainability that define ^Building Better
Cities^, and at the same time use this language and the funds provided
by the federal government to consolidate an agenda of market-led urban
development and the aggressive encouragement of property speculation.

Regardless of the reduction of the present day support we justify
government by, a shift explained by Stretton (1996) where ^Our
politicians have taught their electors to expect tax cuts, refuse tax
increase, and despise government^, the supposed fiscal difficulties
incurred by government do not impose urgent reductions in public
spending ^ this ^freeze (Jackson,1998)^ placed upon social
infrastructure is a strict resultant of choice.

In this constricted social environment, momentum must be gained
alternatively through essential partnership between the public and
private realms. The full extent of Frieden^s (1991) ^urban vitality^,
gained through these partnerships, can only be fulfilled if the
existing rules, regulations and red tape, that are non-descriptive and
non-defining to individual situations, are alleviated (Anderson,1998) ^
essentially we have too many rule making agencies (AIUSH,1991).

Critical factors

Critical factors in the reinforcement of the need for urban
consolidation to be established as a fundamental urban reality can be
seen in the alternative ^ the continuation of urban sprawl. Even if all
the assumptions are exaggerated, and the doomsday predictions are
dramatically fantasised, there is major collective apprehension towards
ANY further encroachment within the biological environment. Something
needs to be done.

Quality of life in all respects and purposes should be the ultimate
gain. Appraisal of this quality should be bound by no prejudges,
pre-conclusions, or a variable market value. If not planning will
instead deny equity (so proactively sought) and therefore careful
intent and design would be subtractive rather than representative of
community base. In exacting theoretical discovery, no matter how
publicly participated, citizens as part of a just a democratic society
should not be made the guinea pigs of experimental reform.

In terms of removing the faults from planning practice, it must be kept
mindful that just as increased public transport is not an answer in
itself, neither is physical and social planning. In as much by
continually educating the community, in all aspects of urban practice,
thereby facilitating a multifaceted participatory approach, will yield
solutions otherwise undiscovered by good planning practice

Practical applications must ultimately be ends tested. Public transport
and more efficient vehicles do nothing other than strengthen the need
to keep planning for roads. Urban density is to often confused with
housing form (Jackson,1998). The wholesale demolition of existing areas
for incredibly ^heroic (McLoughlin,1991)^ achievements in density are
not only non-proportionally effective, but also this new building
denies the creative possibilities of adapting existing environments.
The importance of preserving emotive neighbourhood character provisions
such as established trees, and corner stores, is pinnacle. When we
destroy the greenery and the individuality of a place we destroy the
justification for the suburbs, the mandate of the masses, which
ultimately means failed consolidation.

All of the aforementioned articles of increased sustainability expose a
greater need for radical social change. We must enact a fundamental
change, at both the individual and community levels to make sacrifices
for the common good!

Options for Action

What society needs is clear, valid and up to date objectives ^ a vision
^ from which a set of individualistic solutions can be consistently
derived (AIUSH,1991). These derivations shall be firmly rooted in local
government and other community organizations; an agenda that will
become increasingly pertinent as political environments destabilise,
due to minority parties and the likes, and less conductive to long-term

However, this is not to decline a multilevel and multidisciplinary
approach. Regional prospective must be applied so as to avoid periphery
degradation of local governments areas, maintain open space networks,
facilitate regional public transport and freight links, and to preserve
a greater regional identity (RCC,1998). Over this Government needs to
be organised in such a way that organisation in itself does not
interfere with the coordination of all efforts concerned (Hill,1994).

The must be an importance placed on professionally recognising and
supporting a broader cultural shift towards ^post-modernism, pluralism,
power and desire, small batch production, local narratives, indigenous
architecture and place (Stevenson,1999)^ ^ an environmental conscious,
and the inclination toward sustainability. For that reason, there needs
to be a more environmentally sensitive form emerging, a revolutionary
re-conception of the accepted urban components, that in itself can
bring a more eco-friendly suburbia (Girling,1994).

This could be achieved through positive research and development

towards, for example, the integration of the natural environment to
combat urban storm-water runoff, a multitasking of the essential
pathway provided by road networks, a rethink of the utility of the yard
(and what is the use of a lawn?), and the return of shopping habits of
corner store, home production, delivery and market (Engwight,1992).

There needs to be a cooperative rethink of present planning barriers
and regulations. With the current provisions for overly wide streets,
large setbacks, and minimum lot size regulations there are
unnecessarily restrictions on alternative, if not just exploratory,
ideas about the way communities can be structured, restructured, and


The benefits of urban consolidation will be achieved only if the
elements upon which it is composed seek to benefit all of whom it will
affect. Appropriating issues is clearly not a substitute for
participatory community involvement. It, and other such short-term time
and money conservation techniques, will ultimately cost the nation
dearly if community concern, communication, and faith are abandoned for
resentment and protest. We must avoid exaggeration, and prejudice over
questions involving social planning, and through the proponents of
ecologically sustainable development and a increased social conscious,
and actively promote the discontent towards ^knowing the price of
everything, and the value of nothing (Wilde)^. Urban consolidation may
well be the container of urban sprawl, but only if it rises above the
rhetoric and market-driven ideologies.


Alexander, I. (1998), ^ÑCommunity Action and Urban Sustainability: Hope for the Millennium?^Ò Urban Policy and Research, Vol. 16, No. 2, pages 107-116.

Anderson, G. & Tregoning, H. (1998), ^ÑSmart Growth in Our Future^Ò, ULI ^Ö the Urban Land Institute. ULI on the Future: Smart Growth. Pages 4-11.

Apps, P. (1977), ^ÑIs There a Wider Role for the Architect in Housing?^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 54-55.

Australian Institute of Urban Studies Homeswest (1991), Urban Consolidation Myths and Realities, Proceedings of Division Annual Conference Seminar held at Belmont, WA, on 6th and 7th June, 1991.

Beckwith, J.A. (1998), ^ÑThe Role of Caravan Parks in Meeting the Housing Needs of the Aged^Ò Urban Policy and Research, Vol.16. No. 2, pages 131-137.

Bourke, J.M. (1977), ^ÑPublic Housing ^Ö A Unique Architectural Challenge^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 63-65.

Brisbane City Council (1996), TravelSmart: A Traffic Reduction Strategy for Brisbane.

Cawte, J.E. & Owen, S.E.M. (1977), ^ÑMedical Effects of Concentrated Living^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 77-79.

Community Information Services: Department of Housing and Urban Development. (1993), Social Policy Aspects of Urban Development, Prepared for the Project on Social Considerations in Urban Planning.

Danielsen, K.A. & Lang, R.E. (1998), ^ÑThe Case for Higher-Density Housing: A Key to Smart Growth?^Ò ULI ^Ö the Urban Land Institute. ULI on the Future: Smart Growth. Pages 20-27.

Engwight, D. (1992), Towards an ECO-CITY: Calming the Traffic, Sydney: Envirobook.

Fenna, A. (1998), Introduction to Australian Public Policy, Australia: Addison Wesley Longman Australia Pty Limited.

Frieden, B.J. & Sagalyn, L.B. (1991), Downtown, Inc.: How America rebuilds cities, Cambridge (Mass): The MIT Press.

Girling, C.L. (1994), Yard, Street, Park: the design of suburban open space, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Gordon, A. & Suzuki, D. (1990), It^Òs a Matter of Survival, North Sydney: Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd.

Hill, D.M. (1994), Citizens and Cities: Urban Policy in the 1990^Òs, Sydney: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Imrie, R.F. & Thomas, H. (), Constraints and Conflict in Urban Redevelopment,

Jackson, J.T. (1998), ^ÑCentrality on the Fringe: A Reassessment of Planning Orthodoxy^Ò Urban Policy and Research, Vol. 16. No. 1, pages 7-20.

Jakubowicz, A. (1977), ^ÑSome Aspects of the Sociology of Housing^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 74-76.

Johnson, L. (1977), ^ÑProfessional Reticence^ÅA Challenge?^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 56-57.

Johnson, L.C. (1994), Suburban Dreaming: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Australian Cities, Victoria: Deakin University Press.

Kilby, C. (1990), L^Òenvironment Urbain: Quelles Politiques pour les année 1990?, Report prepared for the OECD Group on Urban Affairs.

King, R. (1977), ^ÑDo We Have a National Housing Policy?^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 60-62.

Kirk, G. (1980), Urban Planning in a Capitalist Society, London: Croom Helm LondonLawrence, R. (1977), ^ÑLiving High^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 66-68.

Mack, E. (1977), ^ÑNuremburg Shazam or Development Controls^Ò Architecture in Australia, June 1977. Pages 69-72.

McLoughlin, B. (1991), ^ÑUrban Consolidation and Urban Sprawl: A Question of Density^Ò Urban Policy and Research, Vol. 9, No. 3, pages 148-156.

Moriarty, P. (1996), ^ÑCan Urban Density Explain Personal Travel Levels?^Ò Urban Policy and Research, Vol.14, No. 2, pages 109-117.

Oc, T. & Tiesdell, S. (1997), Safer City Centres: Reviving the Public Realm, London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.

Petrulis, P. & Brock, A. (1998), Government, Business & Society (2nd ed.), Sydney: Prentice Hall of Australia Pty Ltd.

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Roseth, J. (1991), ^ÑThe Case for Urban Consolidation^Ò Architecture Australia, No 80, March 1991, page 30-33.

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Stevenson, D. (1999), Agendas in Place: Urban and Cultural Planning for Cities and Regions, Rural Social and Economic Research Centre: Central Queensland University Press.

Stretton, H. (1996), ^ÑPoor laws of 1834 and 1996^Ò, Quadrant, Dec 1996, pages 9-8.

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Stretton, H. (1991), ^ÑThe Consolidation Problem^Ò, Architecture Australia, No 80, March 1991, page 27-29.

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Group cohesiveness (also called group cohesion and social cohesion) arises when bonds link members of a social group to one another and to the group as a whole. Although cohesion is a multi-faceted process, it can be broken down into four main components: social relations, task relations, perceived unity, and emotions.[1] Members of strongly cohesive groups are more inclined to participate readily and to stay with the group.[2]


From Neo-Latin "cohaesio" and French "cohésion", in physics, cohesion means "the force that unites the molecules of a liquid or of a solid". Thereby, there are different ways to define group cohesion, depending on how researchers conceptualize this concept. However, most researchers define cohesion to be task commitment and interpersonal attraction to the group.[3][4]

Cohesion can be more specifically defined as the tendency for a group to be in unity while working towards a goal or to satisfy the emotional needs of its members.[4] This definition includes important aspects of cohesiveness, including its multidimensionality, dynamic nature, instrumental basis, and emotional dimension.[4] Its multidimensionality refers to how cohesion is based on many factors. Its dynamic nature refers to how it gradually changes over time in its strength and form from the time a group is formed to when a group is disbanded. Its instrumental basis refers to how people cohere for some purpose, whether it be for a task or for social reasons. Its emotional dimension refers to how cohesion is pleasing to its group members. This definition can be generalized to most groups characterized by the group definition discussed above. These groups include sports teams, work groups, military units, fraternity groups, and social groups.[4] However, it is important to note that other researchers claim that cohesion cannot be generalized across many groups.[5][6]


The bonds that link group members to one another and to their group as a whole are not believed to develop spontaneously. Over the years, social scientists have explained the phenomenon of group cohesiveness in different ways. Some have suggested that cohesiveness among group members develops from a heightened sense of belonging, teamwork, interpersonal and group-level attraction.

Attraction, task commitment and group pride are also said to cause group cohesion. Each cause is expanded upon below.


Festinger and colleagues (1951) proposed the theory of group cohesiveness as attractiveness to people which have the best care within the group and attractiveness to the group as a whole.[7] Lott and Lott (1965) argued that interpersonal attraction within the group is sufficient to account for group cohesion.[8] In other words, group cohesion exists when its members have mutual positive feelings towards one another.

Later theorists (1992) wrote that attraction to the group as a whole causes group cohesion, a concept reminiscent of the social identity theory.[9][10] According to Hogg, group cohesiveness is based on social attraction, which refers to "attraction among members of a salient social group".[9]:100 Hogg explains how group cohesiveness develops from social attraction with self-categorization theory according to which individuals when looking at others' similarities and differences, mentally categorize themselves and others as part of a group, in-group members, or as not part of a group, out-group members. From this type of categorizing, the stereotypes of the group becomes more prominent in the individual's mind. This leads the individual to think and behave according to group norms, thus resulting in attraction to the group as a whole. This process is known as depersonalization of self-perception. In Hogg's theory social attraction refers to the liking of depersonalized characteristics, the prototype of the group, which is distinct from interpersonal attraction among individuals within the group. It is also important to note that group cohesiveness is more associated with group attraction than with attraction to individual members.[10]

Group pride[edit]

Theorists believe that group cohesion results from a deep sense of "we-ness", or belonging to a group as a whole.[11][12] By becoming enthusiastically involved in the efforts of the group and by recognizing the similarities among group members, a group becomes more cohesive. Group pride creates a sense of community which strengthens the bonds of unity.

Task commitment[edit]

Sport (1984) and organizational theorists (1995) have pointed out that group members' commitment to work together to complete their shared tasks and accomplish their collective goals creates cohesion.[13][14] Members of task-oriented groups typically exhibit great interdependence and often possess feelings of responsibility for the group's outcomes. The bonds of unity which develop from members' concerted effort to achieve their common goals are considered indicative of group cohesion. The commitment to the task had a significant and positive relationship with performance, while group attractiveness and group pride were not significantly related to performance.[3]


The forces that push group members together can be positive (group-based rewards) or negative (things lost upon leaving the group). The main factors that influence group cohesiveness are: members' similarity,[15][16] group size,[17] entry difficulty,[18] group success[19][20] and external competition and threats.[21][22] Often, these factors work through enhancing the identification of individuals with the group they belong to as well as their beliefs of how the group can fulfill their personal needs.

Similarity of group members[edit]

Similarity of group members has different influences on group cohesiveness depending on how to define this concept. Lott and Lott (1965) who refer to interpersonal attraction as group cohesiveness conducted an extensive review on the literature and found that individuals' similarities in background (e.g., race, ethnicity, occupation, age), attitudes, values and personality traits have generally positive association with group cohesiveness.[8]

On the other hand, from the perspective of social attraction as the basis of group cohesiveness, similarity among group members is the cue for individuals to categorize themselves and others into either an ingroup or outgroup.[10] In this perspective, the more prototypical similarity individuals feel between themselves and other ingroup members, the stronger the group cohesiveness will be.[10]

In addition, similar background makes it more likely that members share similar views on various issues, including group objectives, communication methods and the type of desired leadership. In general, higher agreement among members on group rules and norms results in greater trust and less dysfunctional conflict. This, in turn, strengthens both emotional and task cohesiveness.[citation needed]

Entry difficulty[edit]

Difficult entry criteria or procedures to a group tend to present it in more exclusive light. The more elite the group is perceived to be, the more prestigious it is to be a member in that group[citation needed]. As shown in dissonance studies conducted by Aronson and Mills (1959) and confirmed by Gerard and Mathewson (1966), this effect can be due to dissonance reduction (see cognitive dissonance). Dissonance reduction can occur when a person has endured arduous initiation into a group; if some aspects of the group are unpleasant, the person may distort their perception of the group because of the difficulty of entry.[18] Thus, the value of the group increases in the group member's mind.

Group size[edit]

Small groups are more cohesive than large groups. This is often caused by social loafing, a theory that says individual members of a group will actually put in less effort, because they believe other members will make up for the slack. It has been found that social loafing is eliminated when group members believe their individual performances are identifiable – much more the case in smaller groups.[23]

In primatology and anthropology, the limits to group size are theorized to accord with Dunbar's number.


Group cohesion has been linked to a range of positive and negative consequences. Its consequences on motivation, performance, member satisfaction, member emotional adjustment, and the pressures felt by the member will be examined in the sections below.


Cohesion and motivation of team members are key factors that contribute to a company's performance. By adaptability development, self-worth, personal motivation growth, each member becomes able to feel confident and to progress in the team. Social loafing is less frequent when there is cohesion in a team, the motivation of each team member is considerably greater. [3]


Studies have shown that cohesion can cause performance and that performance can cause cohesion.[24][25] Most meta-analyses (studies that have summarized the results of many studies) have shown that there is a relationship between cohesion and performance.[3][4][26][27] This is the case even when cohesion is defined in different ways.[3] When cohesion is defined as attraction, it is better correlated with performance.[3] When it is defined as task commitment, it is also correlated with performance, though to a lesser degree than cohesion as attraction.[3] Not enough studies were performed with cohesion defined as group pride. In general, cohesion defined in all these ways was positively related with performance.[3]

However, some groups may have a stronger cohesion-performance relationship than others. Smaller groups have a better cohesion-performance relationship than larger groups.[25] Carron (2002) found cohesion-performance relationships to be strongest in sports teams and ranked the strength of the relationship in this order (from strongest to weakest): sports teams, military squads, groups that form for a purpose, groups in experimental settings. There is some evidence that cohesion may be more strongly related to performance for groups that have highly interdependent roles than for groups in which members are independent.[27]

In regards to group productivity, having attraction and group pride may not be enough.[3][27] It is necessary to have task commitment in order to be productive. Furthermore, groups with high performance goals were extremely productive.[4][28][29][30][31]

However, it is important to note that the link between cohesion and performance can differ depending on the nature of the group that is studied. Some studies that have focused on this relationship have led to divergent results. For example, a study conducted on the link between cohesion and performance in a governmental social service department found a low positive association between these two variables, while a separate study on groups in a Danish military unit found a high negative association between these two variables.[32]

Member satisfaction[edit]

Studies have shown that people in cohesive groups have reported more satisfaction than members of a noncohesive group.[9][33][34] This is the case across many settings, including industrial, athletic, and educational settings. Members in cohesive groups also are more optimistic and suffer less from social problems than those in non-cohesive groups.[35]

One study involved a team of masons and carpenters working on a housing development.[36] For the first five months, their supervisor formed the groups they were to work in. These groups changed over the course of five months. This was to help the men get to know everyone working on this development project and naturally, likes and dislikes for the people around them emerged. The experimenter then formed cohesive groups by grouping people who liked each other. It was found that the masons and carpenters were more satisfied when they worked in cohesive groups. As quoted from one of the workers "the work is more interesting when you've got a buddy working with you. You certainly like it a lot better anyway."[36]:183

Emotional adjustment[edit]

People in cohesive groups experience better emotional adjustment. In particular, people experience less anxiety and tension.[37][38] It was also found that people cope better with stress when they belong to a cohesive group.[39][40]

One study showed that cohesion as task commitment can improve group decision making when the group is under stress than when it is not under stress.[40] The study studied forty-six three-person teams, all of whom were faced with the task of selecting the best oil drilling sites based on information given to them. The study manipulated whether or not the teams had high cohesion or low cohesion and how urgent the task was to be done. The study found that teams with low cohesion and high urgency performed worse than teams with high cohesion and high urgency. This indicates that cohesion can improve group decision-making in times of stress.

Attachment theory has also asserted that adolescents with behavioral problems do not have close interpersonal relationships or have superficial ones.[41] Many studies have found that an individual without close peer relationships are at a higher risk for emotional adjustment problems currently and later in life.[42]

While people may experience better emotional in cohesive groups, they may also face many demands on their emotions, such as those that result from scapegoating and hostility.[43][44]

Conformity pressures[edit]

People in cohesive groups have greater pressure to conform than people in non-cohesive groups. The theory of groupthink suggests that the pressures hinder the group from critically thinking about the decisions it is making. Giordano (2003) has suggested that this is because people within a group frequently interact with one another and create many opportunities for influence. It is also because a person within a group perceive other members as similar to themselves and are thus, more willing to give into conformity pressures. Another reason is because people value the group and are thus, more willing to give into conformity pressures to maintain or enhance their relationships.

Illegal activities have been stemmed from conformity pressures within a group. Haynie (2001) found that the degree to which a group of friends engaged in illegal activities was a predictor of an individual's participation in the illegal activity. This was even after the individual's prior behavior was controlled for and other controls were set in place. Furthermore, those with friends who all engaged in illegal activities were most likely to engage in illegal activities themselves. Another study found that adolescents with no friends did not engage in as many illegal activities as those with at least one friend.[45] Other studies have found similar results.[46][47][48][49][50]


Albert Lott and Bernice Lott investigated how group cohesiveness influenced individual learning. They wanted to test whether learning would be better if children studied with peers they liked than peers they didn't.[51] The degree of member liking was presumed to indicate group cohesiveness. They found that children with high IQ performed better on learning tests when they learnt in high cohesive groups than low cohesive groups. For low IQ children, however, the cohesiveness factor made little difference. Still, there was a slight tendency for low IQ children to perform better in high cohesive groups. The researchers believed that if children worked with other students whom they liked, they would more likely have a greater drive to learn than if they had neutral or negative attitudes towards the group.

Public policy[edit]

Social cohesion has become an important theme in British social policy in the period since the disturbances in Britain's Northern mill towns (Oldham, Bradford and Burnley) in the summer of 2001 (see Oldham riots, Bradford riots, Burnley riots). In investigating these, academic Ted Cantle drew heavily on the concept of social cohesion, and the New Labour government (particularly then Home SecretaryDavid Blunkett) in turn widely promoted the notion. As the Runnymede Trust noted in their "The Year of Cohesion" in 2003:

"If there has been a key word added to the Runnymede lexicon in 2002, it is cohesion. A year from publication of the report of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the Cantle, Denham, Clarke, Ouseley and Ritchie reports moved cohesion to the forefront of the UK race debate."[52]

According to the government-commissioned, State of the English Cities thematic reports, there are five different dimensions of social cohesion: material conditions, passive relationships, active relationships, solidarity, inclusion and equality.

  • The report shows that material conditions are fundamental to social cohesion, particularly employment, income, health, education and housing. Relations between and within communities suffer when people lack work and endure hardship, debt, anxiety, low self-esteem, ill-health, poor skills and bad living conditions. These basic necessities of life are the foundations of a strong social fabric and important indicators of social progress.
  • The second basic tenet of cohesion is social order, safety and freedom from fear, or "passive social relationships". Tolerance and respect for other people, along with peace and security, are hallmarks of a stable and harmonious urban society.
  • The third dimension refers to the positive interactions, exchanges and networks between individuals and communities, or "active social relationships". Such contacts and connections are potential resources for places since they offer people and organisations mutual support, information, trust and credit of various kinds.
  • The fourth dimension is about the extent of social inclusion or integration of people into the mainstream institutions of civil society. It also includes people's sense of belonging to a city and the strength of shared experiences, identities and values between those from different backgrounds.
  • Lastly, social equality refers to the level of fairness or disparity in access to opportunities or material circumstances, such as income, health or quality of life, or in future life chances.

On a societal level Albrekt Larsen defines social cohesion 'as the belief—held by citizens in a given nation state—that they share a moral community, which enables them to trust each other'. In a comparative study of the US, UK, Sweden and Denmark he shows that the perceived trustworthiness of fellow citizens is strongly influenced by the level of social inequality and how 'poor' and 'middle classes' are represented in the mass media.[53]

Analysts at the credit rating agencyMoody's have also introduced the possibility of adding social cohesion as a formal rating into their sovereign debt indices.[54]

See also[edit]


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