Developing an Analytical Framework on Social Cohesion in Singapore

Developing an Analytical Framework on Social Cohesion in Singapore

20 Pages · 2013 · 549 KB · English

ABSTRACT. Official discourse in Singapore on social cohesion is often framed along the broad parameters of achieving racial and religious harmony. Many policies – formal and informal – and several laws evolved to manage these two aspects of society. Yet, as Singapore developed and with a much 

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EUC Working Paper No 14 13 Working Paper No 17 , November 2013 The EU Centre in Singapore is a part nership of Developing an Analytical Framework on Social Cohesion in Singapore Reflections from the framing of social cohesion debates in the OECD and Europe Nurhidayah Hassan National University of Singapore Illustration: European Commission, Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion ABSTRACT Official discourse in Singapore on social cohesion is often framed along the broad parameters of achieving racial and religious harmony Many policies – formal and informal – and several laws evolved to manage these two aspects of society Yet, as Singapore developed and with a much more complex socioeconomic environment both domestical ly and externally, there is perhaps a need to re look the discourse and framework for discussing social cohesion This paper takes a critical look at how the issue of social cohesion is framed in academic literature and policy discussions in Europe and the OECD, and tries to develop a broader analytical framework that could be useful in the Singapore context as it struggles with the multiple fault lines in society (beyond race and religion) that have emerged in the last decade or so EUC Working Paper No 17 2 DEVELOPING AN ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK O N SOCIAL COHESION IN SINGAPORE: REFLECTIONS FROM THE FRAMING OF SOCIAL COHESION DEBATES IN THE OECD AND EUROPE NURHIDAYAH HASSAN 1 1 INTRODUCTION The di scourse surrounding social cohesion in Singapore has rarely strayed far from discussions about its multiculturalism 2 and social integration Until recently, class divides or other forms of divisions in society did not quite feature in the discourse It is undeniable that multiculturalism, particularly relating to race or ethnicity and religion, is a defining aspect of Singapore and one of the most important building blocks of the country The state’s management of the various ethnic communities in the count ry has been arguably rather successful for there has not been any form of ethnic based violence since it achieved full independence in 1965 This achievement is often reiterated in formal narratives by the state’s leaders, a strong reminder to its citizens about the importance of social cohesion which is often framed as racial and religious harmony Today, the relevance of social cohesion in the country is greater than before The ramifications of globalisation, growing visibility of the different cleavag es in society and increasing disenchantment with the government can all be 1 Nurhidayah Hassan is a graduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and was research intern at the EUC in July August 2013 2 This paper espouses the term “multiculturalism” to reflect the diversity of cultures and peoples in Singapore However, official discourse often uses

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