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Session Overview
RN21_02a_P: Measuring Solidarity Potentials and Constraints in Contemporary Europe
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Anna Domaranska, Institute of Sociology National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Location: PC.3.17
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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How to measure solidarity

Katja Rackow

University of Vechta, Germany

The concept of solidarity seems to be well known and is regularly demanded in various political and social debates. However, theoretical concepts, explanations and descriptions are diverse and based on different dimensions and levels. What all attempts to define solidarity have in common is the assumption that solidarity mainly is the support and help given from individuals or groups to any other person or specific groups of people. In addition, some authors also refer to abandonment as an important element of solidarity. Furthermore, different ranges of solidarity can be identified, for example the question of whether there is a general solidarity.

The variety of these theoretical assumptions and considerations is reflected in the empirical measurement of solidarity. Predominantly, general attitudes and values are queried. The possibilities of the empirical measurement of everyday activities still seem to be hardly recognized. Basically, the attempts to measure solidarity refer to just one or two dimensions, but there is no concept dealing with all aspects of solidarity. From my point of view, the operationalization of solidarity is not exhaustively developed and probably often only suitable for certain historical and social (national) contexts, what makes international and historical comparison difficult.

Therefore I will first systematize how sociologists have conceptualized solidarity and in a second step I will compare these theoretical concepts with the various ways of measuring solidarity empirically. By contrasting theoretical concepts and empirical measurements I will discuss strengths and limitations of these approaches and try to develop suggestions for future research.

Regional Disparities and Solidarity: How Geocoded Online Experiments Help to Contextualize Experimental Sociology

Felix Bader1,2, Marc Keuschnigg3

1LMU Munich, Germany; 2University of Mannheim, Germany; 3Linköping University, Sweden

Trust and the willingness to share are key ingredients to solidarity. Therefore, we use incentivized trust and fairness games to assess the context-dependency of spontaneous and deliberate solidarity within and between regions of Germany. We drew a representative sample of the German population (N=2,440) from the largest available offline recruited online access panel to participate in experiments measuring pro-social behavior (dictator game, trust game) on the internet. Our online design transports a homogeneous decision situation into heterogeneous living conditions captured by participants’ geographical location. We test how local macro disparities in economic affluence, social capital, and modern history translate into different practices of social behavior. We find considerable differences in pro-social behavior across German municipalities and argue that geocoded online experiments provide a sorely needed complement to laboratory and survey research. Selectivity of participant pools and disregard of local context has motivated questions as to the external validity of laboratory experiments in the social sciences. Bringing context back into social experiments is particularly relevant for sociological research which — unlike most experimental research in economics and psychology — fully acknowledges the importance of local social arrangements in a multi-level explanation of individual action. The research tools we developed allow the implementation of behavioral experiments into web surveys.

Preferences for Regional Redistribution: The Effect of Geographic Proximity and Structural Similarity

Kerstin Lorek

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

Diverging economic strength and living conditions between regions create inequalities of life chances for the local population. States as well as the European Union use regional redistribution to reduce regional inequalities and to create equivalent living conditions in all regions. However, eroding solidarity and the observed return to national identities and anti-Europe positions put the acceptance and stability of those regional redistribution instruments at stake. The question arises which factors influence individual preferences for regional redistribution. Considering the regional aspect of the redistribution especially, this work analyzes the influence of geographic proximity and structural similarities between regions on individual preferences for redistribution. External effects of relatively weak regions might result in preferences guided by self-interest whereas solidarity norms might favor regions with similar structural composition as one’s own region. In Germany 439 persons participated in a survey experiment consisting of several sets of two hypothetical regions randomly varying in several characteristics representing self-interest and structural similarity. Respondents had to decide which proposed region should receive the redistributed money. Additional sociodemographic data was gathered and the data were merged with information on the respondents’ regions. The results show that respondents are aware of regional inequalities and mainly support regional redistribution. In the experiment especially regions with lower economic strength and living conditions are the recipients of regional redistribution. While the purpose of the financed project is relevant for the respondents, we observe only negligible effects of geographic proximity and structural similarities between the respondents’ region and the hypothetical receiving regions.

Voting rights and intergenerational justice: Framing effects and voter attitude

Attila Gulyás, Béla Janky

Hungarian Academy of Science, Hungary

Abstract: In our work, we present the findings of a survey-experiment which addressed the opportunities for voting rights reforms aiming to increase the political weight of younger generations. We hypothesize that due to biases of the public discourse, voters do not see intergenerational redistribution of public resources as unfair so they do not think that current electoral systems are to be changed. Our study sheds light on the legal efforts to improve intergenerational justice and present the findings of a survey-experiment focused on framing with an online sample of 1000 respondents. The results show that raising the issue of intergenerational justice to respondents could increase younger voters’ openness to voting rights reforms, but could not diminish the resistance of middle aged and elderly voters.


Anna Domaranska

Institute of Sociology National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukraine

The study of helping others has become an important aspect of solidarity research. A recent study by Saari and Pessi (2014) concluded that helping others relates to general social development, pointing out that “an adequate “success” must have been achieved in issues like living standards before there will be room for such priorities as helping others” (2014, p. 264). On the other hand, despite the drastic drop in the living standards of the Ukrainian population since the events of 2013-2014, the participation in practices of helping others and volunteer activities have become very common. The aim of this study is to examine the participation in practices of helping others in post-Maidan Ukraine, considering real action, specific forms of helping behaviour, and groups of people who need assistance. The Monitoring Survey of the Institute of Sociology of NAS of Ukraine is used. The results show that the participation in practices of helping others relates to holding democratic values and aspiration for the European future of Ukraine, while non-participation associates with such features as “discord”, “individualism”, “passivity”, and negative attitude to the idea of Ukraine's accession to the European Union. In addition, the participation relates to such individual-related characteristics as younger age, living in Central and Western regions, belong to categories of ‘professionals’ or ‘legislators, senior officials and managers’, while gender, income, and religious denomination do not significantly predict whether respondent takes part in practices of helping others or not

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