Social Integration and Conflict Prevention: The Role of Discursive Engagement

William Boateng


Social integration ensures that all groups of people have fair and reasonable stake in the affairs of a defined society irrespective of one's social categorization such as ethnicity, gender, and age. It facilitates meaningful participation in the mainstream activities as well as access to social and economic opportunities. A society that aspires to higher socio-economic height should therefore make conscious and systematic efforts in ensuring social integration. Superficially, however, most societies currently experiencing conflicts exhibit trappings of social integration, yet the reality depicts the contrary with extreme ethnocentrism featuring prominently in such societies.

Conflict though inevitable, strategies have to be established to prevent its frequent occurrence. This paper argues that one strategy to prevent conflicts is to ensure authentic social integration in society. Authentic social integration is therefore proposed as a precursor to conflict prevention. Further, the paper makes a case for discursive engagement based on Habermas’ communicative rationality theory as a conduit in bringing about authentic social integration. The conviction is that discursive engagement holds a stronger promise for societal harmony than strategic engagement based on one-sided communicative rationality, which directly and/or indirectly has been playing a major part in triggering off conflicts in Ghana.

The paper recommends that discursive engagement with its principles of responsibility, self-discipline, respect, cooperation, and struggle, should inform social interaction among individuals and groups in order to encourage consensus-formation aimed at building solidarity, and individual and collective empowerment. The proposed engagement, it is suggested, should be premised upon empathetic relationship as an antecedent to conflict prevention.

Keywords: Social Integration, Conflict Prevention, and Discursive Engagement.

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