Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


This study explores the state of social cohesion in South Africa amongst a small group of young people of different races. Social cohesion encompasses a variety of aspects, but this study focuses on racial social cohesion, which can also be thought of as racial integration. This study questions the importance of social cohesion in any society, examines the barriers to social cohesion in South Africa, explores potential solutions to those barriers. It also compares between racial disparity and economic inequality as potential causes of racial segregation. Social cohesion is a strong indicator of the general well being of a community and understanding the current perceptions of barriers is an essential step in improving social cohesion.

Information for this study was collected from open-ended interviews and conversations with young South Africans living around the Durban area. Each individual had unique responses and thoughts about the current state of social cohesion. However, a noticeable trend emerged of a need to become a more socially cohesive nation; although, individuals differed on what steps to take to improve racial integration. Since the study is primarily exploratory in nature, few conclusions were made. The one overarching theme that came up was the need to establish open and honest dialogue across race lines in order to start addressing some of the underlying issues that are stunting social cohesion.


Civic and Community Engagement | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity | Social Psychology and Interaction


Article Location