European Solidarity

BookEuropean Solidarity

European Solidarity

Studies in Social and Political Thought, 16


September 1st, 2007





Calls for solidarity are always accompanied by feelings of urgency. This is true both for the multifarious practical expressions of solidarity and for the intellectual usages of the concept. At the outbreak of the war in Iraq, for instance, the word and concept of ‘solidarity’ were brought to the fore by three of the most influential thinkers of our time, Jürgen Habermas, Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. However, solidarity is still used as a mere buzzword by a surprisingly broad spectrum of the political world. The book has a twofold central objective: it aims both at proposing a variety of sophisticated historical and theoretical reconceptualisations of solidarity and at exposing and spelling out the practical implications of contemporary expressions of solidarity. These two objectives are tightly related by their common frame of reference: European societies and, possibly in the future, a European polity. Thus, a first, historical and theoretical part explores the emergence, consolidation and challenging of the concept of solidarity in the context of differences in social, religious and political conditions within Europe. A second, more ‘empirical’ part investigates the most crucial challenges posed to solidarity in the European space: the EU integration process itself, immigration, Islam, the relation of Western Europe to Eastern Europe, and to developing countries.

This multidisciplinary volume aims to shed new light on the variety of European uses of a political buzzword, solidarity. Growing out of the historically complex roots of religion, politics and knowledge, solidarity has developed a number of meanings that are all but straightforward. Is solidarity what holds the group from inside, or is it what the group displays towards those whom it represents? Is it a political project or a social condition? And is it a matter of faith or a rational option in a secular world? The passage of the concept into the discourse of the emerging ‘global’ movements, as well as its adoption by official post-national discourses, has mirrored and magnified these uneasy questions. In particular at the European level, the answers to these questions have taken so different forms that it is tempting to see in them the expression of multiple solidarities rather than of one, common, as it were, solidarity. Setting as their common aim to shed more light on the ambivalent aspects of European solidarity, the chapters of this book are written by a number of renowned scholars, including Claus Offe, Peter Wagner and William Outhwaite.

In the volume the editor Nathalie Karagiannis define solidarity as " a recurrent specification of social bonds within a political view". This is a satisfying definition which emphasise the temporality of the solidarity concept and avoids any essentialistic connotations.

Insight Turkey

Author Information

Nathalie Karagiannis is Research Fellow at the University of Trento.