S01E02 - Social Cohesion

Aotearoa Tomorrow

Nov 21 2023 • 59 mins

Links:

https://informedfutures.org/?s=paul+spoonley

https://informedfutures.org/challenges-to-social-cohesion/

Today we’re joined by Paul Spoonley a researcher focused on social cohesion – the sense of connection that binds together the many cultures that make New Zealand, Aotearoa their home. I contacted him because of his involvement with a university of auckland-led organisation called the center for informed futures.

Part of Paul’s work involves understanding how to welcome migrants into this nation without undermining the sense of cultural security of those already here. He’s also focused on type of violent extremism behind the Christchurch shootings and the fracturing of the nation as a result of covid policy.

According to Paul, Trust in our nation– both between individual people and between people, companies, and the government – is in decline. He describes being surprised by the public’s lack of engagement with political media last election. And there is likely a connection to be drawn here.

The Big question I have for Paul is how do politicians and governments affect social cohesion for better or worse and how should this translate into our expectations of our politician’s behavior.

We digress into identifying how the productivity and infrastructure commissions have a 30 year time horizon but this planning is not translated into policy as politicians prefer to focus on what sounds good for voters.

Paul says we need to elevate community voices and bring communities together. He also sees the need to bring representative diversity into institutions to rebuild trust. I feel like there is a tie-in to the co-governance discussion here.

Paul is very interested in our nation’s declining fertility at the same time as we have rapid population growth due to immigration and how this is leading to changing demographics and the risk this combination of trends poses to social cohesion given that our public infrastructure is already overstrained.

Finally we dig into the need for greater media literacy on the part of the New Zealand public, although if I’m honest, I’m not completely satisfies we find a realistic solution but we do break the surface and that lines us up for future episodes.

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