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Political Solidarity

Sally J. Scholz

Publication Year: 2008

Experiences of solidarity have figured prominently in the politics of the modern era, from the rallying cry of liberation theology for solidarity with the poor and oppressed through feminist calls for sisterhood to such political movements as Solidarity in Poland. Yet very little academic writing has focused on solidarity in conceptual rather than empirical terms. Sally Scholz takes on this critical task here. She lays the groundwork for a theory of political solidarity, asking what solidarity means and how it differs fundamentally from other social and political concepts like camaraderie, association, or community. Scholz distinguishes a variety of types and levels of solidarity by their social ontologies, moral relations, and corresponding obligations. Political solidarity, in contrast to social solidarity and civic solidarity, aims to bring about social change by uniting individuals in their response to particular situations of injustice, oppression, or tyranny. The book explores the moral relation of political solidarity in detail, with chapters on the nature of the solidary group, obligations within solidarity, the “paradox of the privileged,” the goals of solidarity movements, and the prospects for global solidarity.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

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pp. iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

This book has jumped from front to back burner and back again for many years. Throughout the entire process, countless people provided inspiration, offered support and encouragement, argued with ideas, and read or heard portions of the text. It is with sincere gratitude that I thank them all—those named below as well as all those other friends, philosophers, activists, and ...

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pp. 1-16

When I was in college, I took a one-credit course in sociology called the “Urban Plunge.” The course took about a dozen students and two professors from a lush, suburban campus that sat on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River to downtown Portland, Oregon. For three days, we stayed on the smelly, hard floor of an upstairs room of...

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1. Solidarities

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pp. 17-50

The term “solidarity” is used variously to mark the cohesion of a group, the obligations of civic membership, the bond that unites the human family, shared experience, expressions of sympathy, or struggles for liberation. As a moral concept, solidarity has been interpreted as a virtue, a duty, a feeling, a relation, and a conscious choice. Solidarity is used to describe a particular type of community...

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2. Toward a Theory of Political Solidairty

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pp. 51-70

In this chapter I take up a bit of the challenge left in the previous by sketching a theory of political solidarity, many of the details of which will be worked out more completely in subsequent chapters. No theory of political solidarity can be entirely complete, of course, because it takes a great deal of its content and means from the cause that inspired it. Political solidarity cannot be separated...

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3. The Moral Relations and Obligations of Political Solidarity

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pp. 71-112

Starting a social movement is no easy task. Often what appears as a spontaneous social movement has been decades in the making. The different commitments of the members of the solidary group account in part for the sustaining force of political solidarity. Some people will work diligently and systematically to chip away at what they perceive to be a system of oppression or injustice. Others...

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4. The Solidarity Collective

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pp. 113-150

Solidarity is a moral relation that creates a unity among peoples, but how does that unity come about and what is the precise nature of the unity that distinguishes solidarity from “community,” “society,” “organization,” “association,” or “party”? Ontologically and morally, the solidary group differs from these others and some might even question its status as a group altogether...

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5. The Paradox of the Participation of the Privileged

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pp. 151-187

As we have seen, the solidary group is somewhat fluid; perhaps we might even call it disorganized. Formal decision-making structures generally do not exist, though, of course, factions within solidarity may organize and establish formal structures and procedures. The women’s movement for liberation is a very useful example in this regard. The social movement is quite amorphous...

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6. The Social Justice Ends of Political Solidarity

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pp. 189-229

All forms of political solidarity involve activism, but not all forms of activism constitute political solidarity. There is something special about that form of social change—even beyond the uniqueness of the relationships between members. Political solidarity is a response to injustice, oppression, or social vulnerability. That is, it is political in the broad sense of that term. Activists in...

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7. On Human Solidarity and the Challenge of Global Sollidarity

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pp. 230-264

Although genocide was not an entirely new phenomenon, in the wake of World War II the international community believed that it was imperative to ensure that genocide be named, identified, and, when possible, halted. In spite of this effort, genocidal campaigns continue. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and the Darfur region...


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pp. 265-274


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pp. 275-286

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053240
E-ISBN-10: 0271053240
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271034003
Print-ISBN-10: 0271034009

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2008