Social cohesion in Australia: Comparing church and community

Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell, Gary D. Bouma

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Abstract

In a context of increasing ethnic and religious diversity, Australia’s future prosperity may depend, in part, on the ability to maintain social cohesion. Drawing on the framework developed by the Scanlon Foundation Social Cohesion Research Program, this study examines data from the 2016 National Church Life Survey and the 2016 Australian Community Survey to compare levels of social cohesion among Australian churchgoers and among the general population. Social cohesion metrics were stronger among churchgoers than the wider population across the domains of belonging, social justice, civic participation, acceptance of others and worth. Differences were also observed between Christian denominations on most domains, but with few exceptions, social cohesion among churchgoers from each denomination was still higher than that observed for all Australians. The findings suggest that Christian groups play a positive role in the promotion of social cohesion by building both bridging and bonding social capital among those who participate, but that these groups are unlikely to be a significant source of agitation to prevent some of the greatest contemporary threats to social cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalReligions
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2019

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