cover image: Threats to Social Cohesion And Democratic Resilience: A New Strategic Approach (The Khan Review)


Threats to Social Cohesion And Democratic Resilience: A New Strategic Approach (The Khan Review)

25 Mar 2024

Across the globe many democracies are facing internal fragmentation and polarisation as well as domestic and cross-border political, economic and social challenges. Disillusionment with democracy, the emergence and growth of social media and artificial intelligence, the spread of disinformation and deep fakes; and the mainstreaming of extremism has profound consequences for democratic nations. How we preserve social cohesion while preventing, managing, and responding to these challenges is fast becoming one of the most important questions of our time. This Review is an examination of some of the contemporary threats to social cohesion and our country’s democratic resilience. Many of the risks I outline are eroding cohesion and our democratic norms at an individual, institutional and societal level. Rather than high risk and acute threats such as terrorism, cyber-security and foreign state interference, many of the cohesion risks I identify are chronic, insidious and often sit below the radar; the impact of which is not actively measured or even fully appreciated. There is a growing and dangerous climate of threatening and intimidatory harassment leading to serious censorship – what I have termed freedom-restricting harassment – affecting not just our politicians and those in public life, but members of the public too. In the first polling of its kind, this Review demonstrates the shockingly widespread nature of this phenomenon across British society. Horrifying victim testimonies demonstrate how freedom-restricting harassment is poisoning the lifeblood of our public and civic life and our institutions; and is creating a pervasively censorious culture antithetical to our democratic way of life.
social cohesion society


Sara Khan

Published in
United Kingdom