Philosophy and Critical Theory

Rainer Forst

In this chapter, Rainer Forst raises two concerns about the account of solidarity given by Andrea Sangiovanni. Firstly, he notes that Sangiovanni only employs ‘solidarity’ in the singular, to denote the core content of any meaningful usage of the term, while conceptions provide thicker interpretations of the central components. But it is not clear why Sangiovanni calls the result of different interpretations different ‘concepts of solidarity’ and not ‘conceptions’ of solidarity, as Forst would prefer to do. Secondly, Forst addresses one of the core elements of solidarity, that of ‘joint action.’ Why is ‘action’, as an actual event, required for solidarity? Sangiovanni’s analysis makes clear that different kinds of justifications provide different ‘reason[s] to act in solidarity’ with others. So solidarity implies an identification-based reason to act in solidarity and the willingness to do so if necessary. But that practical attitude and willingness seems to be sufficient to be solidary, and the actual acting not required, as it depends on contingent circumstances. Contrary to what Sangiovanni says, to be in solidarity is to possess a particular practical state of mind. To actually act need not be part of the definition of what solidarity is.

in Solidarity – Nature, grounds, and value
Open Access (free)
Andrea Sangiovanni

In the final chapter of the volume, Andrea Sangiovanni responds to his critics. Taking the preceding chapters one by one, he assesses the validity of the main points raised and offers counter-arguments.

in Solidarity – Nature, grounds, and value
Open Access (free)
Nature, grounds, and value
Andrea Sangiovanni

In a world where politics is becoming increasingly fragmented, unequal, and divided, solidarity is of crucial importance. But what exactly is solidarity? The concept can feel hopelessly vague and amorphous, bleeding into other related notions such as altruism, community, mutual concern, fellow-feeling, and justice. At the same time, there is a tendency to identify numerous possible kinds of solidarity, notably political, social, civic, and human. In his lead essay for this volume, Andrea Sangiovanni sets out to elaborate a unified concept of solidarity that can comprehend each of these usages while having enough structure to make it normatively and empirically fruitful in a range of other contexts. He argues that solidarity is best understood not as an emotion or kind of fellow-feeling but as a particular form of joint action characterized by a typical profile of commitments, intentions, and attitudes, and triggered by an identification with others on the basis of a shared cause, role, way of life, condition, or set of experiences. Most of the essay is dedicated to unpacking each of these aspects. But Sangiovanni also takes the time to re-elaborate, extend, and revise some of the key insights into solidarity that have emerged in recent literature.

in Solidarity – Nature, grounds, and value
Catherine Lu

In this chapter, Catherin Lu encourages Andrea Sangiovanni to consider failures of solidarity in conditions of structural injustice. Sangiovanni’s lead essay focuses mostly on instances when solidarity not only succeeds in bringing people together but is also valuable, although it does mention cases of solidarity bent toward wicked ends. Lu expresses sympathy for Sangiovanni’s account of the instrumental and non-instrumental value of solidarity, but argues that assessing solidarity’s value in contexts of structural injustice is more complicated than his analysis suggests. Ultimately, one may be more ambivalent about the instrumental or non-instrumental value of solidarity as a social practice in contexts of deep and pervasive structural injustice.

in Solidarity – Nature, grounds, and value
Avery Kolers

In this chapter, Avery Kolers challenges the argument that solidarity should be understood as a special form of joint action. He uses the example of the famous Trinidadian cricket player Wilton St. Hill. Early in his career, St. Hill faced a choice: he could either play with the lighter-skinned, bourgeois team – Maple – or with the working-class, darker-skinned team – Shannon. Maple actively excluded dark-skinned Blacks. St. Hill decided to throw his lot in with Shannon, despite the greater advantages that a career playing for Maple might offer him. The reason that St. Hill gave was that Maple would ‘not have accepted his brothers’. Kolers argues that St. Hill’s act of identification as such counts as an act of solidarity. He concludes that there can be solidarity without joint action, because St. Hill’s taking sides with the more disadvantaged is a purely individual action and cannot be understood as part of a wider joint action in which Black Trinidadians opposed the racial and colonial caste order.

in Solidarity – Nature, grounds, and value
Andrea Sangiovanni in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

In a world of deep political divisions and rising inequality, people feel the need for some form of collective resistance and transformative joint action. Calls for solidarity are heard everywhere. This book presents a critical proposal to guide our reflection on what solidarity is and why it matters. How is solidarity distinct from related ideas such as altruism, justice and fellow-feeling? What value does acting in solidarity with others have? In his lead essay, Andrea Sangiovanni offers compelling answers to these questions, arguing that solidarity is not just a fuzzy stand-in for feelings of togetherness but a distinctive social practice for an anxious age. His ideas are then put to the test in a series of responses from some of the world’s foremost philosophers and political theorists.

Terje Rasmussen

The chapter addresses the cultural and symbolic dimension of constitutions, particularly their connection to popular and national sovereignty. Beginning with Rousseau’s symbolic constitutionalism, it demonstrates how fundamental political and legal matters are closely integrated with cultural processes related to affective responses and identification. It argues that sovereignty as symbolism and story, despite its reflexive character, is inherently connected to the constitutional culture of the territorial state.

in The sociology of sovereignty
Abstract only
National sovereignty and the sovereign state
Terje Rasmussen

The chapter continues the examination of central texts on sovereignty into the twentieth century, including the work of Georg Jellinek and Raymond Carré de Malberg. It illustrates how the concept of sovereignty was connected to the conditions of an increasing sociological reality of social classes and inequality, particularly through the successful formula of political representation and parliamentarianism, and the dramatic expansion of the modern apparatus of order, the state. It also examines the related concept of ‘nation’ in the theories of Carl Schmitt and Hermann Heller.

in The sociology of sovereignty
Terje Rasmussen

The chapter recapitulates how the concept of popular sovereignty is fundamentally connected to the state in European history, and makes the case for the concept of popular sovereignty within the framework of the contemporary democratic nation-state. It questions the possibility of sovereignty transfer, and the federal ambitions of central EU institutions to produce sufficient legitimacy to carry a European federal project.

in The sociology of sovereignty
Terje Rasmussen

The chapter addresses the human rights revolution after the second world war, as one of the most complex challenges that the idea of sovereignty has confronted. It examines the debate on the tension between transnational human rights regimes and national and popular sovereignty. It discusses propositions as to how we are to consider the relationship between popular sovereignty and the human rights discourse.

in The sociology of sovereignty