The article focuses on conceptualizations of solidarity, belonging and societal fragmentation, based on different dimensions of “We” as a sociological concept. It examines different forms of solidarity, from universal assistance to solidarity as a moral obligation, from solidarity based on a principle of performance to notions of the ethno-national community. Our mutual association with and interdependency on each other in a given community, whether real or imagined, is understood as a basic requirement for any solidary impetus. Theoretically, this conceptualization is based on the dependence of the Self on the Other in a Hegelian dialectic: Self-consciousness is constituted through the demarcation from and definition by the Other. This basic intersubjective dependency is problematized in the post-colonial concept of Othering, through which (groups of) individuals are devalued, objectified and ultimately dehumanized. Othering, i.e. the “making different” or “making foreign” of individuals who are constructed as socio-economically or ethnically, nationally and legally subaltern in the Spivakian sense, is described as an essential factor for the fragmentation of society, which in turn can be seen as a driving factor for increased de-solidarization. Based on empirical findings, the article argues that not all forms of solidarity need to be based on morality or notions of justice and fairness, but can serve an enlightened self-interest. Instead of a static binary – acting in solidarity or not – this moves us to an understanding of solidarity as a continuum with varying degrees of interconnectedness that can change both horizontally and vertically.
Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)
- 504006 Demography
- 504021 Migration research
- 509012 Social policy