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Civic Engagement, Social Cohesion and Social Integration in Toronto,Canada

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 16:23 by Ida Berger, Mary Foster, Agnes Meinhard
The voluntary sector has long been seen as the foundation of a healthy civil society (DeTocqueville, 1961; Leonard & Onyx, 2003). Yet, substantial growth in the last two decades in demand for voluntary sector services in Canada has been accompanied by a significant reduction in government resources supporting the sector’s activities (Browne, 1996). This confluence of demand growth and decreased governmental support has resulted in increased competition among voluntary organizations for both capital and human resources (Meinhard & Foster, 2000). Furthermore, the ethnic transformation of Canadian society has raised knowledge, policy and practical issues across all sectors, including the voluntary sector. These conditions have pushed many in the voluntary sector to reach beyond their traditional bases of support to consider hitherto untapped segments of society, and have pushed governments to rely more and more on the voluntary sector for the development of social integration. However, research on the Canadian voluntary sector, particularly with a cross-cultural lens, is a relatively new research domain, with many gaps in the knowledge base. As a starting point, Berger (2004) and Berger & Azaria (2004) have proposed, tested and supported a framework that traces the relationship between sub-group identity and volunteering, as mediated by attitudes, norms and social barriers. In this paper we extend this framework and consider the role of civic engagement in processes of social cohesion and social integration. We use the 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey (EDS) to investigate how engagement in the voluntary sector contributes to the development of both bonding and bridging social cohesion, and thereby, social integration.
Keywords: CVSS, Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies, Working Paper Series, TRSM, Ted Rogers School of Management

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