Ties that Bind? Evidence of Unity and Division in 34 African Countries.

Understanding the balance between social cohesion and social dissolution experienced in African societies is still a work in progress. The new findings from Afrobarometer Round 8 presented here suggest that we need to question our traditional assumptions about which identities and cleavages matter most in any given society, as well as our assumptions about the best ways to measure “cohesion.” In all 34 countries covered here, levels of generalised trust are extremely low, yet commitment to diversity and tolerance and acceptance of differences (on most issues) is high. We also see quite high levels of commitment to the nation, alongside significant levels of discrimination. Much work remains to be done to understand what these complex and varied indicators mean for the measurement of social cohesion and, most importantly, for social and developmental outcomes.