In times crisis solidarity is strengthened, but at the same time challenged. This becomes evident in view of migration waves with which Germany had been confronted in the past and is confronted in the recent years as well as other European states and the entire EU. The quest for a consistent scientific understanding of “solidarity” however is complicated by the elusiveness of the term itself, which has produced a wide range of heterogeneous definitions and scholarly conceptualizations. Moreover, the term’s polyvalent semantics have invited scholarly interventions from various disciplines, each with its own normative and theoretical premises, axiological agenda and specific methodologies. No wonder then, that until now there is lacking systematical empirical-analytical research of solidarity. Our interdisciplinary collaborative project is designed to propose a theory based concept prone for empirical analysis.
The approach of the project is to capture the understanding of solidarity by political and societal actors. This is achieved by the analytical reconstruction of their discourses on solidarity. The underlying understanding of solidarity bases on two main premises: firstly, we follow an actor-centered approach focusing on the role of political and social actors in the construction of solidarity. Secondly, we disregard any normative load or any specific decision for a certain set of values connected to the concept of solidarity. We use an innovative methodological approach enabling to capture solidarity as empirical-analytical concept by reconstruction solidarity discourses. Such a discourse analysis which investigates concepts of solidarity in episodes of crisis, enables us (a) to mark changes in development, (b) to identify motivational dispositions, and (3) to map the extent and the points of reference in perceptions of solidarity. On the basis of a multi-level design we address three levels, covering a micro level (citizen to politician, citizen to citizen), an intermediary level (social organizations) and a macro level (political decision makers). This comprehensive approach allows us to follow shifts in concepts of solidarity and to trace mutual influences between the levels. For this purpose, solidarity-discourses will be analyzed in a temporal dimension at various periods of investigation and within various contexts of migration.
For further information see about the project.