Developing a Social Cohesion Index for the Arab Region

07 Dec 2017
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Following a participatory and multi-disciplinary process by engaging leading experts and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, the Promoting Social Cohesion in the Arab Region Project (PSCAR) had commissioned Charles Harb from the American University of Beirut to lead the process of developing a conceptual framework and measurement model for social cohesion in the Arab region. The proposed methodology has also been extensively peer-reviewed by Alexandros Lordos, Director of Research for the SCORE Index; Miles Hewstone, Director of the Oxford Center for the Study of Inter-group Conflict; and Amaney El Jamal, Director of the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice at Princeton University.

The final outcome is a social cohesion index (SCI) that assesses inter-group perceptions (horizontal dimension) and citizen state perceptions (vertical dimension). The proposed index builds on the social and political psychology literatures on intergroup dynamics and collective action, which is tailored to the socio-cultural context of the Arab region. This conceptually driven approach to SCI is conceived as a multi-dimensional, multi-layered concept comprising of core, medial and peripheral indicators.

This is an Exposure Draft released for public interest and consideration, and I would appreciate if you can disseminate to your networks and partners. The methodology explored in this publication will be tested over the next few years, and a revised version will be produced subsequently in light of the lessons learned. As a next step, UNDP will initiate a pilot phase of a multi-stage roll-out of the SCI across Arab countries, which will be implemented in partnership with UNDP Country Offices and other partners.

The proposed SCI is designed to help decision-makers, development practitioners and other stakeholders better understand the dynamics that influence attitudes and collective action, and has the potential to identify precise entry points for peace-building projects. When tested, the proposed index presents an opportunity to identify indicators which predict societal trends, as well as providing the basis for evidence-based policy recommendations to decision-makers.

For any inquiries, please contact Farah Choucair, PSCAR Technical Specialist and Project Manager, at farah.choucair@undp.org.

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