Posts Tagged ‘social cohesion’

About Social Cohesion

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Ecosystem resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary.

Resilience in social systems has the added capacity of humans to anticipate and plan for the future. Humans are part of the natural world. We depend on ecological systems for our survival and we continuously impact the ecosystems in which we live from the local to global scale.

Resilience is a property of these linked social-ecological systems. Resilience as applied to ecosystems, or to integrated systems of people and the natural environment, has three defining characteristics:

  • The amount of change the system can undergo and still retain the same controls on function and structure
  • The degree to which the system is capable of self-organization
  • The ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation

When we translate Resilience in the Dutch language it is translated in “veerkracht“. A “veer” is a spring (a spiraling ring).

When we pull at the end of the spring it will expand and when we stop the pull the spring will spring back into its original state.When the spring is pulled too much it looses its elasticity. It slowly turns into a line. In the end it will break because of almost nothing.

In the old times partners married and promised to stay together for the better and the worse. The ceremony was concluded by exchanging iron rings. The ring was used by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. The ring was put upon the left hand, on the finger that was connected to the heart by the “Vein of Love“. It was a symbol to remember them of the season “to fall in love”, Spring.

Resilience shows itself in all kinds of relations when “things go wrong“. When everything “works fine” we accumulate wealth, we are happy and the relation is a success. The partners are “Playing the Infinite Game of Creation and Cooperation“. Their relationship is Self-Organizing and they learn from each other. They adapt their relationship all the time.

The real strength of a relation shows itself when critical events happen. A good relationship is able to handle a lot of them but every critical event takes away a little bit of the accumulated wealth and decreases the elasticity of the relationship. At a certain point in time the spring breaks and the partners are “on their own” again.

Hierarchical organizations are highly organized. Self-organization is something the System cannot stand. It creates “(P)Anarchy“. Hierarchical organizations are focused on aquiring economic wealth. When they are managed with care they reserve funds to use when “things go wrong“.

What they don’t do is accumulate “social wealth“. When the economy is in its downfall they reduce the amount of people they employ. They keep the “strong” and release “the weak“. The weak are moved to another Ecology called “the Social Security System“. This Ecology is also a hierarchical structure and unable to accept Self-Organization and Play.

At the end of the line something called Social Cohesion is going down rapidly. The Resilience of Society is decreasing with a high speed. The amount of divorces is rising exponentially. The iron ring of marriage is corroded and easy to break. Many people live on their own are left alone and are even bowling alone.

Bowling Alone is a book of Robert Putnam. Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected. We are disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures. People sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know their neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and socialize with their families less often.

All of this is an indication that the were are in The Break, a step in the Panarchy Cycle. The Break is followed by a fast Reorganization. The disconnected parts of the relations connect again on a new scale. The new Scale is based on a old foundation that is stored in the Collective Memory, the Unconsciousness.


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