A panel discussion with Convenor Dr Ana Kirvalidze (Georgian Programme Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford ) and speakers Dr Jonathan Wheatley (Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes), and Dr Maia Chankseliani (Education, University of Oxford).
In this seminar we will explore the relation between ethno-cultural diversity, social and economic, rural and urban disadvantage, and social cohesion.
The large scale process of transition from totalitarian to democratic society has led to a reformulation of old identities. Most expressed discourses about reconstruction of identities were characterized by signifying the dominant group and culture defined in primordial terms. This challenged the sense of belonging to different social groups. In this situation the issue of social cohesion as a capacity to construct a collective identity and an inclusive sense of belonging become a fundamental precondition for the ontological safety for the citizens. A number of important steps have been taken in recent years in both legislative and civic level to enhance the connectedness between the majority and minority groups though as recent studies reveal the biggest challenge of ethno-culturally diverse Georgia remains the social cohesion. There is a significant gap between the majority and minority settlements concerning the socio-cultural, political and economic participation. According to the national survey data, there is a big gap in education, employment and income between these ethnic groups and a significant difference between the capital and urban citizens regarding the involvement in any social interest group or association.