Matej Bel University
INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC
This workshop will focus on issues in political philosophy. More specifically, we will address the questions, “What is solidarity?” “Can solidarity be global?” “If we talk about global solidarity, under what circumstances could it be established?” “Is it a specific type of relationship that one can have?” “Is solidarity a certain kind of action or a motivational basis from which to act?” “What kinds of things can be solidaristic, and can solidarity be realized or manifested through coercive sanctions?” “Is solidarity something that needs to be explained or something that explains?” “Is solidarity a descriptive or evaluative concept, or both?” “Can solidarity be a bad concept?”
In a first step, we will identify the general characteristics common to each type of solidarity. Solidarity is a form of social unity that binds members into an identifiable solidarity group. Solidarity mediates between the community and the individual, combining elements of communalism and individualism. Solidarity is a form of collective responsibility. In the second step, we are introduced to the taxonomy of solidarity, which identifies three distinct forms of solidarity: social, civic and political. In the third step, we will focus on the understanding of solidarity as an expression of resistance against injustice or wrongs of various kinds. Finally, this lesson will include a discussion of what principles would respondents consider indispensable for global solidarity to emerge?
The learning activities in this lesson aim to cover basic issues in political philosophy – specifically solidarity. Already foreshadowed in the title, the question “Global Solidarity / Who cares about solidarity?” is intended to lead students to problematize the seemingly obvious. The lesson will begin by highlighting the vagueness of the idea and the absence of a clear canon of theories of solidarity. We will then focus on the characteristics of social solidarity, civic solidarity and global solidarity. These types of solidarities are related to the strength of the bonds of dependence and mutual support of people who are “in the same boat.” We will also focus on the idea that solidarity can e extended beyond one’s own society to the whole of humanity (global solidarity). We will explore the question of whether solidarity can also be expressed in struggles against injustice or wrongs of various kinds. We will also ask whether an internally solidaristic group can suppress the individuality of its members.Since the workshop is a composite of a number of activities, several materials and tools are needed to complete all of them. If you have a trouble securing all the needed equipment, you can easily improvise (e.g. use a laptop instead of a smartphone etc.)
Materials that should be issued include: several sheets of white paper (A3 or A4), pens, smartphones, resources on selected topics (see section 3.2. below), data projector and projection screen.
Learning outcomes that will be attained through workshop:
- Students will gain a better understanding of the concept of solidarity;
- Students will become aware of the differences between different types of solidarity;
- Students will be introduced to the fact that the idea of solidarity can be extended beyond the borders of their own society;
- Students will gain an awareness that solidarity can also be expressed in opposition to injustice or wrongs of various kinds;
- Students will become aware that an internally solidarity group can suppress the individuality of its members.
LESSON BREAKDOWN – WORKSHOP ACTIVITIES
The lesson consists of five learning activities that are related to each other. Each of them is described in a separate subsection.
Three characteristics of solidarity
First, solidarity is a form of social unity that binds members into an identifiable solidarity group, which is called solidarity. Second, solidarity mediates between the community and the individual, combining elements of communalism and individualism. Solidarity is made up of individuals, but it is a collective entity, not just the sum of its parts. Third, solidarity is a form of collective responsibility.
We will begin this learning activity by dividing students into groups of three to five. We will then ask them to try to characterise solidarity in their own words, also by researching available resources both on the Internet and in available books.
Taxonomy of solidarity
We will talk about three different forms of solidarity: (1) social, (2) civic and (3) political. In social solidarity (1), solidarity is defined on the basis of the characteristics that members share – a common identity. Civic solidarity (2) refers to the relationship between the political state and its citizens. Political solidarity (3) is the unity of individuals who are consciously committed to confronting a situation of injustice, oppression, tyranny or social vulnerability.
At the conclusion of this activity, pose the following discussion questions to students:
- In social solidarity, shared characteristics create social bonds. What kind of social
bonds do you know?
- Which social solidarities show the most cohesion?
- In civic solidarity, does the responsibility to protect one’s fellow citizens arise?
What is it necessary to protect them from?
- Political solidarity is characterized by a shared commitment to the idea of social
justice. What features should ideas of social justice meet?
- How would you explain the idea – in political solidarity, moral commitments precede social ties?
The idea of solidarity can be extended beyond the borders of one’s own society, community or group – to the whole of humanity at most (global solidarity). At the beginning of this activity, divide the students into groups. In groups, students will discuss under what conditions the idea of common, state-based solidarity could be extended to global solidarity. What benefits would arise from this extension? Would this not reduce the parameters of common, state-based solidarity? What would the students
in each group agree on?
Solidarity as a consequence of resistance to injustice
Solidarity can be understood and expressed in the idea of resistance to injustice or wrongs of various kinds. It refers to socio-political struggles to change important aspects of existing forms of social and political life. It addresses the injustices of the present order. We will discuss with students the following questions:
- Which injustices in contemporary social and political life do you consider to be the most
- What procedures for correcting injustices in contemporary social and political life would
The danger of solidarity?
An internally solidary group can put pressure on all its members to the point that it begins to suppress the individuality of its members.
- What are the risks of a mass/tax society?
- Can an internally solidaristic group dehumanize outsiders?
- An internally solidaristic group is characterized by social activism. What do you
mean by this?
The following questions can be used to expand on the topics explored through the course of workshop:
● What reasons or obligations are there to be in solidarity?
● What is their relationship to universalistic modern morality?
● What is the relationship of solidarity to justice, democracy, social freedom, or welfare state institutions?
● What is solidarity in the context of political struggles and social movements for change?
● In what sense can these forms of solidarity be global?