What Keeps Society Together? Societal Cohesion, South Africa as a Challenging Case.

My overall research interest is about societal cohesion, what keeps a society together. I am working on a project about societal cohesion in general and want to take the opportunity to use South Africa as one example. Without going into the causal mechanisms of construction of society, I will reflect on society’s contexture in normative terms.
Law and social norms jointly constitute a normative web that provides a social foundation for everyday interaction between citizens, a social order. I will propose a theory of how social orders are structured from a socio-legal perspective. I would like to extend an earlier study to Cape Town in South Africa in order to test the hypothesis if South Africa represents a social order which relies low on both law and social norms. I would then like to know what keeps the South African society together. Is it possible to build a homogeneous society of the heterogeneity South African society exhibiting today? How can people with different languages and cultures joined together in a society with diverse historical backgrounds? This is a question of a deeper lying problem involving which social forces that make themselves felt and how law can stabilize these forces.

Project leader(s):
  • Håkan Hydén (Department of Sociology of Law, Lund University, Sweden)
STIAS fellow(s):
  • Winston Nagan (Department of Law, University of Florida, USA)

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