How can social cohesion be achieved in a meritocratic and multicultural global city-state?
Meritocracy poses a paradox: On one hand, it integrates individuals through frameworks of equal treatment, equal justice and opportunity regardless of race, language or religion. On the other hand, individuals are then segregating through academic sorting, they are rewarded based on credentials and performance which also results in elite identification and bonding. After a generation, without mitigation action, social stratification can result. Distinctive circles differentiating social elites from non-elites, the professional classes from non-professional classes emerge.
The remedy the authors propose is network diversity which is the organic forming of ties across class and other social boundaries built on deliberate policies, programmes and platforms designed to facilitate that. This social mixing, forged in social infrastructure such as schools, workplaces, and voluntary associations pays off by producing the collective goods of national identity and trust. This hypothesis has been tested in the case of Singapore society and the empirical results from the research on the power of network diversity and bridging social capital are found in this volume.
An insightful read for scholars and practitioners in public policy and social network analysis looking to understand the challenges faced by and the experiences that have emerged from the case of Singapore with its multicultural and cosmopolitan setting.
Table of Contents
1. Nation Building In Singapore—One Tie At A Time 2. The Diversity Challenge 3. Measuring The Network 4. Emerging Class Circles Amid Fading Racial Lines 5. Inclusive Networks And The Social Infrastructure That Facilitate Them 6. It Takes A Network: Network Diversity And The Link To National Identity 7. Blending Circles: Policy Levers That Enhance Social Mixing
Vincent CHUA is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at National University of Singapore (NUS). He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto. He researches social networks paying close attention on its role in inequality reproduction. His areas include the study of education, race and neighbourhoods. His chapters and articles include: “Personal Communities: The World According to Me” (2011), “Social Networks and Labour Market Outcomes in a Meritocracy” (2011), “Categorical Sources of Varieties of Network Inequalities” (2013), “Unequal Returns to Social Capital: The Study of Malays in Singapore through a Network Lens” (2015), “Do Raffles Boys ‘Rule’ and Anglo-Chinese Boys ‘Own’ Singapore?: Analysing School-To-Work Correspondences in an Elite Development State” (2015), “Social Capital in Singapore: Gender Differences, Ethnic Hierarchies, and their Intersection” (2016), and “Getting Ahead in Singapore: How Neighbourhoods, Gender, and Ethnicity affect Enrollment into Elite Schools” (2019). He teaches modules on social capital and quantitative data analysis at NUS and is a recipient of the Faculty Excellence Teaching Awards (2013, 2017, 2018) and the University Annual Excellence Teaching Award (2018).
Gillian KOH is Deputy Director (Research) at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Senior Research Fellow in the Governance and Economy Department. Her research interests are in the areas of party and electoral politics, the development of civil society, state-society relations, state governance and citizen engagement in Singapore. Among other things, Dr Koh conducts surveys on Singaporeans’ political attitudes, sense of identity, rootedness and resilience and also helmed several IPS scenario-planning projects. She was part of the team that conducted the IPS Study on Social Capital in Singapore (2017). She has published and co-published articles on civil society and political development in Singapore. She was co-editor of Migration and Integration in Singapore: Policies and Practice (2015) as well as State-Society Relations in Singapore (2000) and Civil Society and the State in Singapore (2017) and co-author of Singapore Chronicles: Civil Society (2016).
TAN Ern Ser is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, and Academic Convener, Singapore Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; as well as Academic Adviser, Social Lab, Institute of Policy Studies, at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD in Sociology from Cornell University, USA. His research interests include social stratification, ethnic relations, housing, and political sociology. He is author of “Does Class Matter?” (2004), “Class and Social Orientations” (2015) and “Two Stories on Class in Singapore” (2016). He chairs the Research Advisory Panel, HDB. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2013.
Drew SHIH was a former Research Assistant at the Institute of Policy Studies, and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Global Studies from the National University of Singapore. His work at the Institute spanned across the areas of social capital, social inclusion and public finance. He is now an urban planner.