Social Cohesion as an External Factor Affecting Families: An Analysis of the White Paper on Families in South Africa




social cohesion, external factors, families, White Paper, South Africa


Social cohesion is beneficial to economic restructuring, social change, and political action. At its core, it involves building shared values and communities of interpretation, reducing disparities in wealth and income, and generally enabling people to have a sense of belonging, inclusion, participation, recognition, and legitimacy. A family, as a major social institution, is central to the functioning of any society and is therefore potentially the bedrock of creating and maintaining social cohesion. This article draws inextricable links between the role of the family and the creation of social cohesion by evaluating South Africa’s White Paper on Families. First, it defines and unpacks social cohesion and contextualises the family environment. This is done through an evaluation of the available literature on social cohesion in the family. Second, an evaluation of legislation and the White Paper on family is presented. Third, the aid of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is used to examine the various environments concerning social cohesion in the family. The White Paper on family recognises the family in aspects other than the concept of the family cycle, a key component of the developing individual who should be nurtured from infancy to adulthood. In addition, gaps in the policy are highlighted by looking at implementation challenges of the constitutional provisions and examining the way in which these gaps lead to social and economic exclusion and attendant poverty as the cardinal result.


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Author Biographies

Fred Bidandi, University of the Western Cape


Nicolette Roman, University of the Western Cape

Professor Roman is the chair of DST/NRF/NDP research in Human Capabilities, Social Cohesion and the Family at the Family and Child Studies Unit, Faculty of Community and Health Science.



How to Cite

Bidandi, Fred, and Nicolette Roman. 2020. “Social Cohesion As an External Factor Affecting Families: An Analysis of the White Paper on Families in South Africa”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 32 (3):17 pages.



Received 2020-03-05
Accepted 2020-07-01
Published 2020-10-31