: Issue 05/2020

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 319-326

Stephan Lessenich, Michael Reder, Dietmar Süẞ

Between Social Cohesion and Political Practice: The Many Faces of Solidarity


Contrary to multiple tendencies to diminish solidarity in the context of neo-liberal developments, new forms of solidarity are currently emerging that (partly) transcend traditional boundaries. These can be adequately understood if, firstly, differences and overlaps of concepts such as aid, utopia or solidarism are analysed in a historical perspective. Secondly, in the process of reconstructing the current discourse of solidarity, five conceptual continua are utilised to sharpen the focus on some of its assumptions and limitations. Against this background, the article argues for a praxeological understanding of solidarity. In particular, political practices of solidarity have the potential to criticise existing structures and discourses and to transform society without engaging in mere social romanticism. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 327-334

Klaus Kock, Edelgard Kutzner

Solidarity in Everyday Working Life


The article focuses on the company as a place where solidarity is born. In order to cope with the demands of the work process, employees enter into collegial ties and commitments, at the same time following their need to develop their own identity and experience recognition at work. The authors argue that collegiality is an implicit service provided by the workers, on which the company depends, but which can only be practised interactively by the workers themselves. Collegiality develops into processes of solidarity if employees use their power potentials to formulate their own goals and influence the conditions of their cooperation. Trade unions bring together the collegial and solidarity-based modes of action emanating from the workplace; they use the power potential of the employees arising in the companies and bundle it into organisational power. Every trade union demand is ultimately based on the members’ common objectives and their willingness to stand up for them. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 335-342

Cornelius Torp

Limits of Solidarity? The Movement of Refugees and the National Welfare State


The movement of refugees over recent years has given rise to a wide-ranging debate about whether immigration has the potential to destroy the national solidarity on which the welfare state allegedly rests. It is certainly debatable whether the modern welfare state was conceptualised on the basis of solidarity. If solidarity is defined in a way that differentiates between the action and system levels, however, this can be justified quite well and is corroborated by historical evidence. Nevertheless, the solidarity-based community that forms the basis of the welfare state can and could never simply be equated with the nation. Rather, its respective scope differed considerably from one branch of social security to the other and, moreover, changed over time. Finally, empirical research has come to disparate conclusions on the issue of whether migration threatens the solidarity-based roots of the welfare state. Against this background, the article advocates more precise impact analysis using historical case studies, stronger differentiation between the subsystems of the welfare state and a fresh view of the integrative potential of the welfare state. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 343-348

Daniel Maul

Global Solidarity? The International Labour Organization ( ILO) Turns 100


Roughly 100 years ago, in June 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in Paris. Starting from a quite narrow European and mainly industrial focus, the history of the ILO can be read as one of constant expansion, both geographically and with regard to the fields of work and the type of workers represented in the organisation. At the same time the ILO can serve as a mirror of the conflicts and tensions that have characterised the world of work in the course of the past century. The article shows that the history of the ILO offers plenty of starting points to reflect about both the foundations and the limits of solidarity between states, societies, social groups and individuals on a global scale. The ILO appears not only as a sounding board for ideas of transnational solidarity, but also as a field of action for the latter’s practical political implementation. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 349-355

Michael Reder, Alexander Heindl

Political Solidarity in a Transnational Perspective


Solidarity is often linked to a specific social community. In a globalised world however, such an understanding obviously falls short. Therefore, this article argues for a political understanding of solidarity in a transnational perspective. Such a concept, in contrast to a focus on social cohesion, aims at social change and includes a utopian dimension. The diverse and sometimes conflicting practices of political solidarity in a global context are mainly about expressing counter-models to prevailing political interpretations. In the struggle for global proposals for concrete political solutions, they aim to make the excluded heard and visible in the face of diverse crises and to transform the foundations of (transnational) coexistence. It is exactly the plurality of these practices that displays significantly important democratic potential. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 356-361

Greta Wagner

Help and Criticism. Solidarity and Charity in the Context of Aiding Refugees


From the perspective of social critique, helping others can be controversial. If aid is not accompanied by a political critique – it is argued – it can stabilise the status quo rather than contributing to social change. One-sided helping relationships reproduce symbolic inequalities and entail the risk of paternalism. Activists therefore seek to help in solidaristic ways instead of charitable ones. Ideally, solidarity is based on reciprocity, which is difficult to realise – particularly in unequal relationships. In this article, the author outlines solidaristic and charitable concepts of helping others before discussing three contrasting cases of volunteers aiding refugees: activists on the Greek island of Lesbos, civil sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean, and volunteers in villages in the rural federal state of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. The duration of the aid differs in these cases, which affects the importance of reciprocity between helpers and recipients of help as well as their concepts of solidarity. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 362-367

Sophia Dafinger, Eva Fleischmann, Karolin-Sophie Stüber

The Difficulty of Showing Solidarity. A Report from Research


Almost everyone agrees that a society needs solidarity, although there is less consensus about what that means. How exactly does solidarity manifest itself, how does it develop over time and how can one differentiate it from other forms of collective action? The authors deal with some controversial questions that arise from the concept of solidarity for social science research. They are also raised regarding the interdisciplinary research project that is reported on in this article. At its centre is the concept of political solidarity between aid and activism, the ambivalences of which are plumbed and reflected from a socio-philosophical perspective. The approach is illustrated using examples of aid extended to refugees in the 20th and 21st centuries. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, Seiten 368-367

Anuscheh Farahat, Marius Hildebrand

Democracy for Germany, Austerity for Europe? Limits of Solidarity in the Jurisdiction of the German Federal Constitutional Court


On the basis of the ruling of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – announced by the German Federal Constitutional Court – the article examines how constitutional resolutions of euro zone crisis-induced conflicts affect the institutionalisation of transnational solidarity in Europe. For this purpose, it is argued that the crisis-induced politicisation of European governance is understood as a reproduction and strengthening of transnational solidarity conflicts. Against this backdrop, it maps out how the court frames the supranational conditionalisation of financial solidarity towards the debtor countries inherent in the ESM as a necessary requirement of the democratic principle of the German constitution (Grundgesetz). Hence, the court does not only affirm the crisis politics of the German federal government ; it runs into a dilemma of democratic governance in Europe and closes down the interpretative openness of the constitution in a way that undermines the political leeway for institutionalising a more progressive understanding of solidarity in ­Europe. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 374-377

Kai Lindemann

Solidarity is the humanistic foundation of the world of work


The author discusses solidarity as the humanistic basic value of trade unions. It gets its social and political relevance through a collective identity that in the German case is based on the principle of a single consolidated trade union (Einheitsgewerkschaft). Solidarity is constantly exposed to changes and challenges from politics and the world of work. The workplace is the traditional location of trade-union solidarity. As its boundaries are becoming fluid in today’s working world, other forms of solidarity must be sought across and beyond companies, some innovative examples already being in place. But at the same time, the individual demands for solidarity are also changing. Trade unions must also take up these cultural challenges. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 378-381

Elena Chatzimichali

"Let´s make solidarity contagious!" The Greek solidarity movement in health services


This article describes the historical origin, organisational structure and practice of the Social-Clinics-Pharmacies Solidarity structures (SCPSs) in Greece. Given the economic crisis and austerity, as well as their impact on public healthcare, the guiding principles of their work are explained: grassroots democratic organisation, independence from political parties and sponsors, connection of emergency medical aid and political demands such as the right to universal healthcare, regardless of ethnic origin, gender or income. The practice of the SCPSs can also serve as inspiration for a new kind of solidarity-based organisation of health facilities in countries beyond Greece. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 378-381

Thomas Rudhof-Seibert

Solidarity after “Industrial 9/11”


The devastating plant fires that occurred in Dhaka and Karachi in the years 2012 and 2013 constitute the ”9/11” of the textile industry: Ever since, knowledge about the working conditions in the production sites in South Asia has spread to a global public. The article documents the self-organisation of those affected by the fires and their aim to prevent the occurrence of such a disaster happening again elsewhere, thus representing a political fight for solidarity with a truly global aspiration. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 386-388

Andreas Nölke

Solidarity, left-wing communitarianism and the corona crisis


In the context of the corona-virus crisis, the question is raised anew regarding solidarity obligations. The debate between left-wing communitarianism and left-wing cosmopolitanism which was carried out during the migration crisis assists us to address this question in a systematic way. It juxtaposes layered and unlimited concepts of solidarity, in addition to linking these concepts to their typical social supporters. The behaviour of large segments of the population during the corona-virus crisis demonstrates the strong support for communitarian motivation in Germany. This may limit the appeal of left-wing parties that typically pursue very pronounced cosmopolitan values. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2020, pp. 389-391

Floris Biskamp

The desire for communitarianism as an ideological discourse


In recent years, the political-theoretical terms cosmopolitanism and communitarianism have found their way into political sociology, where they are used to analyse current polarisation dynamics and explain the rise of the radical right. However, while the pair of terms is helpful in reflecting on normative questions and dilemmas, it proves empirically inadequate and misleading in political-sociological analysis. In the worst case it leads to an ideological discourse in which enmity towards cosmopolitanism and a desire for communitarianism are articulated. more … (in German)