. 6
( 7)


Contemporary Solidarity

precondition for the coming into being of patterns of exchange. Without
recognition of the person and his or her identity no reciprocal exchange
is possible.
The signi¬cance of recognition of the other returns in the accounts of
both contemporary and classical thinkers. For instance, Honneth (1992)
conceives of reciprocity as an issue of recognition. In order to be able to
feel self-respect, people need the respect and regard of others. We recog-
nize Adam Smith™s and George Herbert Mead™s views on the mirroring
of the imaginary viewpoint of the other in our own minds. Honneth dis-
tinguishes between three forms of intersubjective recognition “ through
love, life, and law “ resulting in three layers of self-regard. In love people
are experiencing a fundamental sense of being valued as an individual. In
social life humans are valued and respected because of personal character-
istics that are socially valued. In law, ¬nally, people are valued regardless
of their personal characteristics and regardless of the social value of these
characteristics. Similarly Habermas (1989) regards identity as the result
of processes of mutual recognition, and reciprocal recognition as a basic
assumption underlying solidarity. According to him the basic principles
of modern solidarity are not fundamentally different from the mutual
expectations of reciprocity existing in premodern societies.
Also in Hannah Arendt™s view (1978) adoption of the plurality of other
people™s viewpoints in our own minds is the only way to transcend our
own, interest-driven self and the limitations of our own judgment. In ad-
dition, Arendt provides us with some poignant premonitions concerning
the emotions on which solidarity is sometimes built. Compassion and
pity with the societal underclasses are often important motives within rev-
olutionary movements. In On Revolution (1963) she presents a fascinating
analysis of the role of solidarity and pity during the French Revolution.
The revolutionaries, with Robespierre in their vanguard, were driven by
pity for the mass of the poor and exploited people; they idealized the poor
and praised their suffering as a source of virtue. The revolutionaries™ pity
became a pretext for the exercise of brute power, resulting in the ruthless

Solidarity and the Gift

annihilation of the opponents of the revolution. The revolutionary soli-
darity was based on a lack of recognition of others as human beings and
of the plurality of their viewpoints.
Recognition of the humanity of self and other is tantamount to recog-
nition of the interdependency of self and other. For the recognition of
humanity implies that other people™s needs and their mutual dependency
for the ful¬llment of these needs are recognized. In Chapter 8 we argued
that the psychological development of the assertive self may be at odds
with the capacity to recognize the other and the awareness of mutual
dependency. The precarious position of civil solidarity can largely be ex-
plained by the fact that its fundamental precondition “ recognition of
otherness “ seems to be subject to erosion.

Social Distance

Recognition of other people™s human worth is directly related to the next
dimension: social distance. From the work of the classical anthropologists
it appeared that the nature of the gift was related to the nature of the social
relationship: the closer the distance “ family, relatives “ the more disin-
terested the gift and the less speci¬c the expectations of return gifts: I give
to you, but I do not care so much about when or even if I receive some-
thing back. In relations with unknown people gifts given out of motives
of personal gain or self-interest are more likely. In between lies a more or
less equal or equivalent exchange of gifts: everybody gives and receives,
and nobody gains or loses by it. Similarly, Georg Simmel (1950 [1908])
re¬‚ected on the way solidarity was related to social distance. In his view
solidarity would be transformed as a consequence of individualization.
As the traditional forms of community would lose their binding force,
people would increasingly be able to regard their fellow human beings as
representatives of the human species in general rather than a particular
group or culture. According to Simmel the process of individualization
would lead to more extended identi¬cations; the new solidarity would

Contemporary Solidarity

cover larger collectivities and become more abstract in nature (van
Oorschot et al. 2001).
Solidarity has indeed become more global and abstract, as we have
seen. Worldwide networks and interest groups, new global solidarity
movements, and the growing willingness to give to charity and support
humanitarian goals seem to con¬rm Simmel™s ideas about the rise of
abstract solidarity. However, such abstract solidarity is “easier” than con-
crete solidarity in the form of care and support to fellow human beings,
because one is less directly confronted with the effects of poverty, illness,
or hunger. Filling in a bank check for some charity requires less personal
identi¬cation and less effort than caring for an ill relative. No real disaster
is imminent when a member of a worldwide network does not live up to
his or her commitments. The anonymity of global solidarity is at the same
time its strength and its weakness. The lack of direct personal responsibil-
ity and the low level of personal and emotional commitment facilitate the
mobilization of large numbers of people and the rapid growth of such
networks, but they reduce solidarity to the exchange of information,
consciousness raising, or a simple donation. Such a “thin” solidarity, as
B. Turner and Rojek call it (2001), can never emulate the “thick” solidar-
ity based on personal responsibility and commitment toward concrete
human beings.
However, the thick solidarity occurring between kin and near rela-
tives has a darker side as well, which becomes apparent in the selectivity
of solidarity, as we have seen. In his book Good Natured (1996) Frans
de Waal presents convincing proof for this selectivity among both hu-
mans and animal species. Human sympathy is restricted and is given
most readily to one™s own family and clan, and only reluctantly to the
outside world, if at all. “Human history furnishes ample evidence that
moral principles are oriented to one™s own group, and only reluctantly
(and never even-handedly) applied to the outside world. Standing on the
medieval walls of a European city, we can readily imagine how tightly life
within the walls was regulated and organised, whereas outsiders were only

Solidarity and the Gift

important enough to be doused with boiling oil” (1996: 30). This can to a
large extent be explained by the well-known evolution principles, which
predominantly serve the protection and survival of one™s own family and
close relatives. “Kindness towards one™s kin is viewed as a genetic invest-
ment, a way of spreading genes similar to one™s own. Assisting kin thus
comes close to helping oneself ” (de Waal 2001: 317).
Contemporary solidarity is an interesting mixture of thick and thin,
both showing strengths and weaknesses.

Motives for Solidarity

In classical sociological theory solidarity motives were thought to be
either inspired by affectivity and shared norms and values, or by instru-
mental considerations like self-interest and rational choice. An example
of the ¬rst is the emotional commitment people feel toward their close
relatives; solidarity based on self-interest becomes visible, for instance,
in the collective arrangements of the welfare state: contributing collec-
tively is to the advantage of every individual citizen. A striking difference
between anthropological and sociological theory is the anthropologists™
attention paid to the principle of give-and-take, whereby each individual
gives about equally. The best illustration of the enormous signi¬cance
of this equality motive is still found in the anthropological literature on
gift exchange. Malinowski™s account of the Kula shows that the bulk of
the transactions between the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands are of
the equality type. As noted in Chapter 2, it appears that also in Western
society the most common pattern is that the gift is followed by a more or
less equal countergift. The underlying motivation is in Mauss™s terms
do ut des, I give so that you give in return. This is also the basis of
the many forms of mutual help and types of local solidarity discussed
in Chapter 8. Perhaps the “normalcy” of this type of solidarity is the
reason why it has received such scarce attention in the sociological

Contemporary Solidarity

Another possible motivation for solidarity particularly emphasized by
anthropologists is power. Both Mauss and L´ vi-Strauss showed how the
power motive could be involved in gift exchange: gifts can serve to rein-
force the personal prestige and status of the giver, but also to humiliate
or dominate the other party by putting him in a position of debt and
dependence. Later these insights were elaborated upon by the sociologist
Gouldner, but the anthropologists had clearly preceded him. It is ob-
vious that power can be a forceful motive sustaining mutual solidarity,
but there are various shades. A very strong internal group loyalty does
not necessarily lead to the exercise of power and oppression. Thinking in
terms of “us” and “them” can be observed in rival football clubs but also
in groups with different religious convictions or cultural backgrounds.
The relationship between the autochthonous population and the new-
comers in Western societies illustrates the possible consequences. The
more one exclusively identi¬es with one™s own group and refrains from
interaction with outsiders, the more negative effects on the outside world
the intragroup solidarity will have, and the less the willingness to engage
in intergroup cooperation and trust.
Groups tied by strong ethnic or nationalist identi¬cations, as it
were, need inimical other groups for their own survival. Their self-
identi¬cation derives its legitimacy from the identi¬cation of other
groups as the enemy. In extreme cases hate can breed the lust for power.
The aim of the group becomes self-preservation through the oppres-
sion of outsiders by means of violence and destruction. The former
Yugoslavia is one of the many examples showing how nationalist or eth-
nic pride and strong mutual solidarity can turn into ethnic cleansing
and violent oppression. In his book Blood and Belonging (1993) Michael
Ignatieff explores the numerous forms of new tribalism and nationalism
in our globalized world. The use of violence is legitimized by the per-
ceived threat to self-determination or the love for one™s own blood and
soil. The latter legitimization is perhaps the most convincing as it appeals
to the supposedly better parts of human nature. In Ignatieff ™s words: “But

Solidarity and the Gift

if nationalism legitimizes an appeal to blood loyalty, and in turn blood
sacri¬ce, it can only do so persuasively if it seems to appeal to people™s
better natures, and not just to their worst instincts. Since killing is not a
business to be taken lightly, it must be done for a reason which makes its
perpetrator think well of himself. If violence is to be legitimated, it must
be in the name of all that is best in a people, and what is better than their
love of home?” (1993: 6). Solidarity springing from feelings of “blood and
belonging” is the most perverted of all solidarities. Self-interest is not a
suf¬cient motive to explain this type of solidarity. The need to protect
one™s own group ideals and identity by oppressing others through exercis-
ing power and using violence is predominant here. This type of solidarity
is based on the complete denial of the humanness of the other party.
Different from what modern sociology suggests, four broad categories
of motives seem to underlie solidarity: affection, equality, power, and
instrumentality or self-interest. Solidarity theory, then, would gain by
adding equality and power to the more common motives of affectivity
and instrumentality.

Reciprocity: Gift and Sacri¬ce

The fourth dimension, reciprocity, can take two shapes: gift and sacri¬ce.
This dimension varies mainly in the degree of anonymity and abstract-
ness of what is coming in return. Reciprocity and mutual sharing have
a long history in social theory. In Auguste Comte™s view, sociology was
the scienti¬c study of friendship and companionship (socius), the latter
term pointing to the importance of sharing basic resources such as bread
(panis) in order to be able to form and maintain social ties. Compan-
ionship is best exempli¬ed by the communal sharing of a meal and the
exchange of food, as is also re¬‚ected in the etymological roots of the word
(B. Turner and Rojek 2001). The ritual of hospitality, the sharing of bread
and other food, is a prototypical example of the morality of reciprocity.
The essence is that receiving prompts giving.

Contemporary Solidarity

L´ vi-Strauss (1961 [1949]) gives an illuminating example in his account
of a ceremonial aspect of the meal. In some lower-price restaurants in
the south of France each guest ¬nds a small bottle of wine in front of
his plate. The bottle is the same as that of this person™s neighbor at the
table and holds just one glass. The contents of the bottle are not poured
in the glass of the owner but in that of his neighbor, and the latter makes
the gesture of reciprocity by doing exactly the same. In the end each
guest has not received more than if he had consumed his own wine.
Instead of silently sitting next to each other as strangers, social bond is
created by the simple act of reciprocal wine pouring. It is impossible
to refuse that gesture without appearing insulting. As a result not only
the wine is returned but conversation is offered in return as well. This
apparently futile scene represents a very basic situation: that in which
individuals enter into contact with strangers and are facing the problem
of either being friendly and establishing a bond or refusing to accept the
stranger as a potential ally altogether. L´ vi-Strauss spends several pages
on this example because he feels that it offers “material for inexhaustible
sociological re¬‚ection.” He apparently shares Comte™s view that studying
reciprocity and the formation of social bonds should remain a concern
for sociology.
Of course, not every exchange contains the moral element that leads to
the formation of social ties. Purely economic exchange is not offering the
moral context needed for the coming into existence of social bonds. As
Frans de Waal rightly observes: “Reciprocity can exist without morality;
there can be no morality without reciprocity” (1996: 136). Like L´ vi- e
Strauss, de Waal thinks that the link between morality and reciprocity
is particularly evident in hospitality and food sharing. “A link between
morality and reciprocity is nowhere as evident as in the distribution of
resources, such as the sharing of food. To invite others for dinner . . . and
to have the invitation returned on a later date is a universally understood
human ritual of hospitality and friendship” (de Waal 1996: 136). Appar-
ently, a situation of reciprocity and sharing offers the best guarantee for

Solidarity and the Gift

a peaceful being together. Hospitality, or the sharing of a meal, seems to
be the epitome of human community.
Why is the informal social contract created by reciprocity so effec-
tive in creating the cement of society? The answer lies in the sublime
reconciliation of individual and social interests resulting from it. Its evo-
lutionary effectivity has been amply documented in the work of biologists
like Trivers (1971), in de Waal™s animal studies, and in Malinowski™s and
L´ vi-Strauss™s anthropological ¬eld studies. Reciprocity represents the
elegant combination of self-interested concerns with the requirements of
social life. As Marcel Mauss said, “Material and moral life, and exchange,
function . . . in a form that is both disinterested and obligatory” (1990
[1923]: 33).
Why is the concept of reciprocity more promising as a cornerstone of
solidarity theory than is the basic assumption of rational choice theory
that humans are rational egoists (Hechter 1987; Coleman and Fararo
1992)? It is because this assumption leaves no room for the aspect of
moral obligation. Although people certainly try to realize their own best
interests in many instances, there is more to human life than mere self-
interest. Leaving aside the various other criticisms that can be launched
against some of the core aspects of rational choice theory (Sen 1979;
Coleman and Fararo 1992), the fact that people feel morally committed
to their fellow human beings because they have given them something
of value is ignored in contemporary rational choice“inspired theories of
The notion of sacri¬ce is yet another signi¬cant aspect of solidarity that
is generally overlooked in sociological theories; in the anthropological gift
theory, however, it is a recurring theme (Hubert and Mauss 1974; Girard
1993 [1977]; Berking 1999). In the words of the German sociologist and
anthropologist Berking, “It is not only that, in the most varied cultures,
gifts are again and again understood as sacri¬ces and vice versa. It is also
that gift and sacri¬ce denote two, admittedly distinguishable, intensities
in the continuum of an anthropology of giving” (1999: 51). Throughout

Contemporary Solidarity

the centuries people in the most different cultures have sacri¬ced to gods
or ancestors. Not only animals but occasionally also human beings were
involved in ritual slaughter. An example showing the continuity between
gift and sacri¬ce is the willingness of human beings to sacri¬ce their
own lives in order to save another human being “ rescuing a child from a
burning house or preventing a person from drowning. Those who offered
shelter to Jews during the Second World War to save them from Nazi
prosecution put themselves at a serious, sometimes life-threatening risk.
All these examples show a personal sacri¬ce occurring in the context
of a concrete relationship with one or more other human beings (not
necessarily being acquainted with one another).
The sacri¬ce of human lives does not only happen at the level of inter-
personal relationships but also at that of groups, communities, clans, and
nations. In the former case the sacri¬ce is concrete and personal, whereas
in the case of large-scale group solidarity it is abstract and anonymous.
This type of sacri¬ce can vary from the sacri¬ce of individual autonomy
and freedom of thinking in the name of a certain group ideal, but group
solidarity can also lead to the sacri¬ce of anonymous others™ lives, be-
cause they have different convictions or a different group identity. An
extremely high loyalty toward one™s own group combined with extreme
animosity and hate toward outsiders can lead one to sacri¬ce one™s own
life and that of as many enemies as possible, in order to attain personal
martyrdom and heroism. The Muslim extremists who crashed planes
into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 and
the Palestinians who attack Israel by killing themselves provide examples
of what Durkheim (1951 [1897]) called altruistic suicide: the sacri¬ce of
one™s own life for a “good cause.”
Although the ideology of sacri¬ce does occur both at the interpersonal
and the group level, the large-scale sacri¬ce of human lives is more char-
acteristic for group solidarity than for relationships between individuals.
Ideals of sacri¬ce have a prominent place in the consciousness of those
who are uni¬ed in political or ethnic group solidarity. The stronger the

Solidarity and the Gift

value the group represents to its members, the more important it is to
preserve internal cohesion. In communist groups and organizations it
was a sign of political virtue to sacri¬ce one™s personal interests and per-
sonal life to the political cause (Withuis 1990). Groups sharing a strong
ideology are characteristically denying the validity of deviating beliefs and
perspectives. The idea of sacri¬ce is a built-in feature of their belonging
to the group and a fundament of the group as such.
This type of solidarity is more often found at the other pole of the reci-
procity continuum. At this pole the type of reciprocity is different from
the one belonging to the gift. Where more or less equivalent, concrete,
and personal reciprocity is predominant with the gift, the reciprocity
of sacri¬ce is of a nonequivalent, abstract, and impersonal nature: the
sacri¬ce of individuality, autonomy, or human lives is reciprocated with
abstractions like mutual loyalty and ideological purity, collective inter-
est, or martyrdom. Whereas the gift is recompensed with a countergift,
sacri¬ce yields heroism and a sense of moral superiority in return.

Toward a Theoretical Model of Solidarity

In the preceding sections I have argued that four dimensions are quin-
tessential when trying to understand the various forms of solidarity.
These dimensions provide the organizing principle in Figure 9.1, which
comprises the different positive and negative manifestations of solidar-
ity. Before explaining the details of the theoretical model, I want, ¬rst,
to make a remark on ritual. In Chapter 5 the signi¬cance of ritual for
solidarity was demonstrated. We saw how the rituals of the religious sac-
ri¬ce and the shared meal served to create bonds between humans and
gods and among humans. In contemporary society rituals still ful¬ll im-
portant functions to maintain social bonds and solidarity. In addition to
the rituals surrounding gift giving there are numerous ritual elements in
collective manifestations of solidarity. Ritualism and the use of symbols
serve to unify groups, communities, clans, and nations by providing a

Contemporary Solidarity

Recognition Social Motives Reciprocity Solidarity
of the other distance
Family Affection
Friends Equality
Fellow citizens Equality
Recognition of the

¬gure 9.1. Four dimensions of solidarity.

collective identi¬cation. The reason why ritual has not been included in
Figure 9.1 is that it does not differentiate in any meaningful way between
the various social units on the social distance continuum. Whereas the
ways of expressing ritual will be different in the various social units “
family rituals are different from the ritualism present in the dynamics of
a group or a nation “ ritual as such is an aspect of most forms of solidarity.
Let me brie¬‚y recapitulate the dimensions.
First, recognition of the other™s human worth is more likely to occur
among family, friends, and neighbors than among fellow citizens and
strangers. In larger entities like groups, communities, tribes, and nations
the recognition of otherness becomes less likely, in particular as ideologi-
cal rigidity and group loyalty increase and the threat to self-determination
is felt more strongly. The second and third dimensions are social distance
and the related solidarity motives. The combinations in Figure 9.1 are
ideal types because in practice many exceptions will occur. For instance,
affectivity and equality will be most common among near relatives and
friends, but considerations of power and instrumentality cannot be ex-
cluded. Think of a personal relationship based on power inequality or
on mere personal pro¬t seeking and self-interest. Inversely, motives of
affection and equality are not the exclusive prerogative of family and

Solidarity and the Gift

friends but can also be present in larger social units. But, in general, in-
strumentality and power are the more likely motives to occur in groups,
larger communities, tribes, and nations. The relationships among fellow
citizens and strangers fall in between: equal exchange is possible, but
self-interest and power may motivate their actions as well.
The fourth dimension is reciprocity. Reciprocity as exempli¬ed in the
gift is more likely within the small units of family, friends, and neigh-
bors where it contributes to establishing the social ties of solidarity. The
personal character of the emotions involved and the concrete expression
of these in the gift are typical for small-scale social units. Although gift
relationships may occur on a larger scale as well, as in big companies giv-
ing gifts to political parties, their potential in bringing about social ties
is different from the small-scale interpersonal gift giving, and the under-
lying motives will re¬‚ect more self-interest, instrumentality, and power
needs than within the smaller units. Although gifts may be impersonal
and abstract, the prototypical gift is personal and concrete. Also sacri¬ce
can be personal and take place in the context of a concrete relationship
with another human being, but the abstract and anonymous sacri¬ce
in the name of certain group ideals is more characteristic of larger-scale
social units.
It has been said before: all solidarities have strengths and weaknesses.
Large-scale group solidarity may be useful to develop a group identity,
to make one™s presence felt, and to attain political and social goals. The
power of small-scale solidarity relies on the direct and reciprocal commit-
ment and responsibility, becoming expressed in mutual respect and help.
The risks of small-scale interpersonal solidarity are selectivity and ex-
clusion, whereas large-scale group solidarity can lead to the annihilation
of personal autonomy, oppression, and bloodshed. Solidarity, like gift
giving, while being indispensable to social life, is never entirely without
What could be the value of this theoretical model when looking at
contemporary solidarity? Let us choose two problematic examples: civil

Contemporary Solidarity

solidarity (Chapter 8) and the relationship between autochthonous and
allochthonous citizens in Western societies (this chapter). Figure 9.1 in-
forms us that anonymous fellow citizens and strangers do not belong to
those categories of human beings toward whom solidarity is easily felt and
expressed. Still, this solidarity in particular should be promoted, in the
¬rst case because the decline in the level of public respect causes serious
concern, in the second one because our society faces the immense task
of developing a new social connectedness allowing the autochthonous
and the allochthonous to live together in harmony and mutual respect.
Avoiding the negative aspects of strong internal group solidarity will be a
major issue. One of the many lessons we can learn from Durkheim is that
forms of societal organization have an impact on solidarity. When look-
ing for solutions for shortcomings in today™s solidarity, the gift model
may offer a possible direction because it implies a social contract that ties
people together through the morality of mutual obligation. It becomes
important, then, to ¬nd those forms of societal organization that allow
the gift model to unfold the best of its powers.

From Organic to Segmented Solidarity

The multifariousness of solidarity precludes any general statement about
an increase or decline of solidarity. As the American historian Thomas
Bender said, “How many times can community collapse in America?”
(1978: 46). Among the many manifestations of solidarity some will al-
ways be decreasing, and others increasing in signi¬cance or level, making
it impossible to give a ¬nal assessment on the level of solidarity in a certain
society. A phenomenon like solidarity is therefore mainly interesting in
its qualitative aspects and dimensions. Just as Durkheim saw a transfor-
mation in solidarity from mechanical to organic solidarity in the course
of the nineteenth century, a similar change can be perceived at the turn
of the twentieth into the twenty-¬rst century.

Solidarity and the Gift

An essential change compared with solidarity in Durkheim™s times
is, of course, the rise of the organized, formal solidarity of the welfare
state. Whereas in cases of illness, unemployment, or poverty nineteenth-
century citizens had to fall back on charity and other forms of mutual
assistance and care, at the beginning of the twenty-¬rst century in most
Western welfare states (the European more than the American) there ex-
ists a reasonably well organized social safety net for those who are not
able to care for themselves or provide for their own livelihood. This has
diminished the pressure on informal solidarity and thus increased the
independence and freedom of citizens. But, in addition, changes have
occurred in informal solidarity itself, which cannot be accounted for by
the availability of the organized solidarity of the welfare state. In this
book we have, for instance, seen that due to various societal transfor-
mation processes informal solidarity has become more individualized,
abstract, and global, whereas, at the same time, many traditional forms
of solidarity have remained. Despite the great variety of expressions of
solidarity, a trend may be observed. As noted in Chapter 8, motives
based on self-interest and reciprocity have become more prominent in
some forms of solidarity, like the assistance offered to people sharing
one™s fate. This development is possibly related to the increased empha-
sis on the self and the new assertiveness. We saw the same emphasis
return in the developments of civil solidarity, which we tentatively in-
terpreted as indicating a decline in people™s capacity to take the imagi-
nary position of another person. On the other hand, we observed that
the anonymous solidarity of writing a bank check has increased: au-
tonomous citizens decide themselves if and to which charity they give
money, regardless of what others do. Key words are autonomy and inde-
pendence, or “ put differently “ a strengthening and reinforcement of the
self vis-` -vis others. Although this does not necessarily mean that oth-
ers are less recognized, this combination does occur, as we have seen in
Chapter 8.

Contemporary Solidarity

This tendency toward growing independence and forti¬cation of the
self indicates that the basis of modern solidarity has fundamentally
changed. In Chapter 5 we saw that in Durkheim™s view the interdepen-
dency of citizens for the provision of their needs was the foundation
of organic solidarity. In the course of the nineteenth century societal
roles and tasks had become more differentiated and, at the same time,
functionally more interwoven. The relationships between citizens were
characterized by mutual dependency, and forms of social organization
were interconnected. At the start of the twenty-¬rst century this interde-
pendency is clearly declining. An important domain where the decreased
interdependency becomes visible is work, as Sennett has observed. In-
deed, in large, bureaucratic institutions the organizational conditions are
not particularly favorable to interdependency and mutual commitment,
and feelings of social connectedness will seldom arise. Recognition of per-
sonal value is often rare in these settings. One is an anonymous particle
doing one™s job more or less independently from other particles.
As a consequence of the individualization process, the better social
provisions and the increased wealth, modern citizens™ societal opportu-
nities and possibilities have increased in a range of domains “ education,
mobility, relationship forms, and procreation, to mention just a few “
and have therefore contributed to their greater autonomy. Due to these
developments the signi¬cance of people™s mutual dependency as a basis
for solidarity has greatly diminished, despite statements on the growing
impact of the “network society.” Seen from Durkheim™s functionalist per-
spective solidarity had an apparent survival value: the continuity of the
community was dependent on it. This situation has clearly changed at
the end of the twentieth century. Individuals in Western societies are no
longer uniting in solidarity because they need one another for their sur-
vival (here the welfare state can provide solace) but because they choose to
do so themselves. Personal considerations have partly replaced perceived
group advantages as determinants of solidarity. Solidarity has become
less based on the mutual recognition of desires and needs, and more

Solidarity and the Gift

on voluntariness. As a consequence, solidarity has also become more
noncommittal: individuals no longer express their solidarity because they
have to, but because they feel free to do so.
Not only have individuals become more independent in their activ-
ities, but also the larger segments of society like family, neighborhood,
and church “ the “organs” in Durkheim™s terminology “ have come to
function more independently from each other due to processes of differ-
entiation and increasing scale. As a consequence cities, villages, quarters,
and neighborhoods have become hybrid and fragmented. Families can
do without a neighborhood if they like, and neighborhoods do not need
families. There is a growing diversity of organizational forms that people
use to give shape and meaning to their lives. This applies, for instance,
to the variety of religious af¬nities, each with their own place to pray,
but also to the ¬elds of leisure and social services. For all these ¬elds the
principle holds: everyone to his or her own liking. The mosque and the
Protestant church exist alongside each other in the same neighborhood,
each serving their own group of believers. Similarly, alternative and reg-
ular circuits of health care services lead their own independent existence,
and on each conceivable domain “ sports, volunteer work, theater, ¬lm,
music “ there is a multitude of organized and nonorganized opportu-
nities to spend one™s free time. Many sorts of labor have become less tied
to a speci¬c urban or regional area. Worldly contacts, whether oriented
to work or of a private nature, have become context-independent and
can, in principle, be realized from behind any desk with a computer. The
different, formal and informal, organizational frameworks of human ac-
tivity have become less interwoven. They no longer form an “organic”
whole from which solidarity arises automatically, as it were, but have
become independent, autonomously functioning segments.
In brief, both individuals and forms of social organization in which
individuals function have come to stand apart. The basis of solidarity is
no longer organic in the Durkheimian sense but has grown independent.
One might therefore describe the ongoing change as a transformation

Contemporary Solidarity

from organic to “segmented” solidarity: separate, autonomous segments,
connecting (if at all) with other segments no longer out of necessity and
mutual dependency but on the basis of voluntariness. The segmented
solidarity differs both from Durkheim™s mechanical and his organic sol-
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were based on mutual likeness and congruence between individual and
group identity, the segments on which contemporary solidarity rests are
not homogeneous anymore but characterized by diversity and plurality.
We still have families, neighborhoods, and churches, but their internal
variety is greater than ever. Also the connection between the various social
segments has become more loose and less “organic” as we have seen.
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has entirely substituted organic solidarity. The distinction is analytical
in kind, and in reality forms of organic as well as the old mechanical
solidarity can still be observed. Family solidarity, for instance, is still alive
and kicking as we saw in this book, and in particular where mutual assis-
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concerned, elements of need and survival are still strongly involved. But
generally speaking, in contemporary solidarity the aspect of voluntari-
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Adorno, T., 51 authority ranking, 21, 23
affection, affectivity, 9, 95, 112, 115, 118, autonomy, 92“94, 95, 96“97, 141, 183,
120, 124, 161, 162, 190, 191, 199, 201, 209, 210
206 annihilation of, 207
feelings of, 161, 165, 194 desire for, 161
aggression, aggressive, 186, 187 growing emphasis on, 175
feelings, 186 personal, 175
tendency to respond with, 186 women™s, 93“94, 192
altruism, altruistic, 80, 84, 85, 109, 111,
112, 132, 182 Baal, J. van, 79
and gift giving, 85 balance of debt, 7, 70“71
prescribed, 160, 161, 165, 194 Balinese cock¬ght, 120
and sel¬shness, 118 barter, 118, 119
and solidarity, 110 Barthes, R., 19
suicide, 204 Baudrillard, J., 19
surrender, 50 Bauman, Z., 171“172, 178
Appadurai, A., 16“17, 31 Bayertz, K., 5
Arber, S., 164 Beck, U., 141, 172
Arendt, H., 196 Becker, H., 147
assertiveness, 209 Bender, T., 208
increased, 175 bene¬cence, norm of, 111
association, 115 benevolence, acts of, 192
instrumental ties of, 118 Bengtson, V., 146, 151“152, 153
asymmetry, 69 Bennett, W., 184
alternating, 86“95, 192 Berking, H., 4, 203
and power inequality, 190 blood, 84“85
Attias-Donfut, C., 164 and belonging, 201
attraction, 115 donation(s), 3, 20, 36, 84
authoritarian personality, 51 loyalty, 201
authority, 27, 50, 51, 119 sacri¬ce, 121, 201
relational model of, 51 Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., 160
structures of, 175 Bourdieu, P., 19


Brown, R., 117 meanings of, 184
Burgers, J., 159 notion of, 184
civilization, 184
Caplow, T., 36“37, 47, 81, 85, 137 process, 184
care (help, mutual assistance, support), cohesion (social, family), 102, 103,
9, 83“84, 198, 209, 212 104“105, 111, 116, 150, 154, 178
chains, 178 internal, 205
collective, 136 and solidarity, 102
elderly, 162 Coleman, J., 112, 114, 133
formal and informal, 163 collective representations, 109
as a form of control, 160 commodity, alienable, 18
globalized, 178 community, 22“23, 25, 26, 27, 31, 50, 107,
(in)formal, 9, 129“132, 142“143, 146, 118
147, 157“158, 163, 164, 165, 180, 187, bonds of, 74
193, 194 feelings, 183, 188
institutional, 162 forms of, 183
provided to aged people, 157 model, 30
state-provided, 162 modern forms of, 104
caregivers, informal, 132, 163 production, 89
caring arrangements, provisions, 162 small homogeneous, 107
formal, 163 small-scale, 104, 118, 178
intrafamilial, 163 communitarian tradition, 116
microsocial, 163 community, communal sharing, 21,
public, 164 22“23, 25
Carrier, J., 32 ritualistic, 201
Carter, S., 184 traditional forms of, 197
Castells, M., 177 complementarity thesis, 164“165
charity, 9, 46, 123, 125, 142, 193, Comte, A., 103, 201, 202
209 conscience collective, 104“105, 133
donations to, 125, 188 consequences, intended and
giving to, 180 unintended, 114
growing willingness to give to, 198 consumption, 19“20
Cheal, D., 21, 37“38, 81, 85, 95, 137 conspicuous, 18, 23
Christmas, 109, 137 contract (social, silent)
cards, 109 between generations, 162
gift(s), packet, present(s), 3, 26, 30, informal solidarity, 146
36, 38, 53 microsocial, macrosocial, 146, 163, 164
citizenship, 126, 184 welfare state, 146
decline, 188 Cooley, C., 44
dimensions of, 188
increase, 188 dala, 88, 90
civil society, 184 debt balance, 48, 49, 53, 54, 84
civility, 184“185 decline (social), 179, 184
and civil society, 185 accounts of, 179
concern with, 184 dependence. See (in)dependence,
decline of, 184 dependency
as a form of solidarity, 185 destruction of wealth, 28


(dis)respect, 187 faithfulness, 110“111, 141
and care for fellow citizens, 185 as a sociological feeling, 111
diversi¬cation, 11, 169, 175“177 family (familial) solidarity, family ties,
toward fellow citizens, 184 10, 139, 144“166, 187, 191, 194, 212
mutual, 183, 207, 208 ambivalent feelings of, 161, 166
public, 208 con¬‚ictive, 166
division of labor, 103, 104“105, 109, and immigration society, 159
133 problematic aspects of, 162
(dis)trust, 101, 118 transnational forms of, 159
intergroup cooperation and, 200 troubled, 166
mutual, 135, 160, 183 Fararo, T., 114
relations of, 173 Finch, J., 160
do ut des, 4, 109, 199 Firth, R., 60
Douglas, M., 2, 32, 123, 141 Fiske, A. P., 16“17, 21“25, 26, 30“31,
Durkheim, E., 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, 102, 103“105, 50“52, 119, 190, 191
106, 109, 112, 113, 116, 120, 121, 133, free riding, free riders, 113“114, 133
146, 150, 170, 180, 181, 189, 194, 204, risk of, 115
208, 209, 210, 211, 212 Fortuyn, P., 181
Dutroux, M., 181 Freud, A., 50
Dykstra, P., 157, 158, 164 Freud, S., 65

Elias, N., 114, 184 Geertz, C., 120
Elster, J., 112, 113 Gemeinschaft, 103, 105“107, 133, 150
emotion management, 37 gender, gender differences, roles, 154
Engbersen, G., 159 in altruism, 80
equality, 28, 31, 48, 50, 51, 120, 190, 191, in caring motives, 161
201, 206 changing, 169
relational model of, 51 in family life, 154
equality matching, 21, 23“24, 25, 31 in gift giving, 192
equivalence, 119 in help exchange, 155
Etzioni, A., 9, 112, 116 and power inequality, 192
exchange, exchange relations, 78 generation(s), 144“145, 147“150, 194
asymmetrical, 111 as age cohort, 147
based on self-interest, 193 cohort conception of, 148
direct and equivalent, 110 concept, 148
economic, 202 contract (social) of, between, within
equal or equivalent, 197 the family, 145, 146
and exploitation, 87 as determined by a shared
generalized, 110 conscience, 148
as the means of gaining power over problem, 147
people, 78 relationship between, 147
of money, commodities, 89 structure of, 149
principle of, 108 synthesis between, 172
reciprocal, 102, 117 theory, 148
exchange of sacri¬ces, 16“18, 32, 33, generosity, 4“9, 22, 47, 73, 109, 112,
43 125
exchange theory, 37 Gesellschaft, 103, 105“107, 133


gift(s), 1 competitive, 28
as an act of unfriendliness, 49 core meaning of, 117
agonistic origin of the word, 1 disclosing identities, 53
altruistic, 108 economic dimension of, 108
bad, 35, 52 empirical study of, 36
as barter, 108 gendered meaning(s) of, gender
and (as opposed to) commodities, 6, effect of, 8, 36, 192
16“18, 19, 20“21 interpersonal, 207
de¬nition of, 39 as a means to express, gain prestige,
etymological roots of the word, 51 109
as expression of solidarity, 123 money, 124“126
free, 111 motives underlying, 124
and generosity, 65, 66 to political parties, 207
inalienable, 16“18 psychological functions of, 35, 43“45
inalienability of, 18 psychological motives underlying,
money, 49, 81, 82“83, 138 motivations, 39, 46
as moral cement of society, 112 ritual, symbolic aspects of, 121,
offensive, embarrassing, 35, 52“53 137
and poison, 51 silent bookkeeping of, 160
pure, 108, 118, 119, 193 sociological dimension of, 108
redundancy of, 38 time to volunteer work, 124“129,
rejection of, 54 180
and sacri¬ce, 203 women™s greater, larger share in, 38,
spirit of, 45, 58“64 42
threshold, 63 Gift Giving in the Netherlands, 26, 68
as tie signs, 7 globalization, 11, 169, 177“179, 183
wedding, 38 process, 170, 195
gift economy, 19, 21, 22“23, 87, 89, 141 Godbout, J., 3, 4
gift exchange, 21, 77“78, 117 Godelier, M., 3, 61
ceremonial, 108 Goffmann, E., 38, 43
competitive, 90 Gouldner, A., 2, 69, 110, 111, 112, 118, 119,
as a contest of honor, 119 200
dependence and independence in, 70 gratitude, 4“8, 9, 22, 30, 35, 46, 47, 54,
as an instance of social exchange, 117 56“75, 95, 110“111, 141, 191
as a mixture of altruism and action tendency of, 56, 62
sel¬shness, 109 creating social cohesion and
as the moral cement of human community, 57, 69
society and culture, 67, 109 de¬nitions of, 56“58
as a moral economy, 21 envy and, 64
as opposite to economic exchange, 117 externalized, 64
as a principle of exclusion, 77“78 faithfulness and, 67
as a self-sustaining system, 118 fostering the continuity of social life,
symmetrical pattern of, 91 67
as total social phenomenon, 117 imperative (force of), 56, 72
gift giving (and receiving), 8 modern conception of, 64
abstract and anonymous, 123“124 moral and psychological aspects of,
care, 124“132, 180 73


moral basis of reciprocity, 71 as recognition of otherness, 176
moral cement of human society and ritual of, 201
culture, 58 toward strangers, 170, 176“177
moral coercion, 57 Hyde, L., 62“63, 75
moral memory of mankind, 8, 67
moral obligation to give in return, identi¬cation(s), 22, 115, 132, 165
71 ethnic or nationalist, 200
moral virtue, 57, 73 with the family, 145
as negative force, 72 feelings of, 194
objecti¬ed, 64 new, 183
part of the chain of reciprocity, 57, and social ties, 183
72 identity, identities, 53, 54, 115, 196
personal virtue, 66 diversi¬cation, diversity of, 170,
personality asset, characteristic, trait, 194
57, 58, 64, 73 ¬‚uidity, fragmentation of, 175
power, dependence, 69“71 gifts as mirror of, 35
social, societal, and cultural meaning of giver, recipient, 35, 43“45, 95
of, 74, 191 individual (and group), 104, 115, 212
spiritual, religious, or magical layer individual(s ) sense of, 104, 172
of, 72, 191 personal, cultural, social, 108, 194
group (solidarity) risk of losing, 96
ideals and identity, 201 shared, 116, 133
internal, 208 uncertainty about, 194
large-scale, 207 Ignatieff, M., 200
inalienable possessions, 78“79
Habermas, J., 5, 196 (in)dependence, dependency, 27, 77, 209
hau, 59“61, 73 upon family members, own children,
Hechter, M., 9, 112“114 162, 163
Heider, F., 150 feelings of, 160, 161, 166
Hochschild, A., 37, 178“179 on group for need satisfaction, 113,
homo economicus, 22, 107 121
homo sociologicus, 107 mutual, 109, 114, 121, 173, 185, 197
Homans, G., 150 new forms of, 190
Homer, 176 and reciprocity, 173
Honneth, A., 196 undesired, 28
honor, 45, 47, 119, 193 individualism, 176
hospitality, 4, 39, 42, 83, 84 individualization, 11, 141, 145, 169,
as basis of morality, 176 171“173, 194, 197“198
classical, 177 process, 131, 170, 172, 174, 194, 210
contemporary, 176 ingroup
depersonalized and commercialized, favoritism, 134
177 moral standards, 134
epitome of human community, 203 solidarity, 124, 133, 134, 135, 136
as expression of solidarity, 170 instrumentality, instrumental
general obligation to, 176 considerations, 29, 120, 190, 191,
obligatory character of, 176 199, 201, 206, 207
original meaning of, 176“177 and power, 207


interdependency, 173 loyalty, 106, 111, 115, 160
of actors, group members, 114, 150 internal group, 200, 206
of citizens for the provision of their mutual, 205
needs, 210 with the family, 145
networks, 114
with other people, 121 Malinowski, B., 2, 8, 9, 25, 34, 41, 58“59,
interest(s), 105“106 63, 76, 77, 78, 87, 88, 102, 109, 110,
collective, 107, 173, 205 112, 118, 119, 199, 203
expressive, 106 Mannheim, K., 147, 148
individual, social, 103, 114, 203 Manschot, H., 5
instrumental, 106 market (exchange), 50, 51, 92, 105, 117
shared, 183 economy, 19, 21, 87, 89, 90
intergenerational solidarity, relations, model, 30, 49


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