Discourse-structure of social cohesion as a category of social policy: experience of critical discourse-analysis application


The article is dedicated to identifying the discourses of social cohesion as a category of social policy, constructed by the textual structures of national governments, intergovernmental associations and international organisations documents. The paper is performed in the frame of a discourse-analytical approach; discursive events define the normative acts of national governments, intergovernmental associations, and international organizations during the 90s – 2000s, devoted to the issue of social cohesion; definitions of social cohesion and “textual situations” of their use are chosen as units of analysis. Based on the critical discourse analysis of N. Fairclough’s and some provisions of E. Laclau and S. Mouffe’s discourse approach, the author (re)constructs a discourse-structure of social cohesion, presented by discourses of social solidarity, neoliberalism, inclusion (involvement) and materialism. These discourses are further composed into interdiscursive spaces of neoliberalism and traditionalism. The need for methodological caution in the uncritical scholars’ application of political-legal definitions of social cohesion is emphasised to prevent the spread of constructed discursive ideologemes. It is concluded that social cohesion appears as a chameleon discourse, which content is not only socio-culturally, historically, politically contextual, but also chronologically dynamic (systemically fluid). The article emphasises the dominant positioning of social cohesion as an instrument of state policy, a “universal cure” for the social diseases and all the “best” against all the “worst” that ideologizes this concept, making it artificially dogmatic. The paper identifies “empty signs” of social cohesion discourses and the point of “hegemony intervention”. Considering delusions of the political-legal discourse of social cohesion, the relevance of applying a dialectical strategy for defining social cohesion within academic discourse is highlighted.

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