Solidarity, participation and the notion of human rights
1MTA-ELTE Peripato Comparative Social Dynamics Research Group, Hungary,; 2MTA Centre for Social Sciences, Hungary
Those who emphasize Europe’s duty to help refugees of the recent wave of migration often refer to the principles of solidarity and human rights as a ground of this duty. Although both ideas emphasize the importance to help those in needs, there might be a fundamental conflict among the two as well. Solidarity is often described as empathy or willingness to help the members of an in-group, while the theory of human rights implies that when someone’s fundamental rights are threatened, one should help without concerning group-boundaries. The conflict between the particularity of group based solidarity and the universalism of human rights might goes unnoticed in times of affluence, while becomes harsh when resources are scarce. The question is, whether the notion of human rights is able to serve as a bridge between groups and produces universal solidarity.
In our paper we examine, how the acceptance of human rights is connected to supporting refugees. The analysis is based on a Hungarian-Greek online survey in December 2016. To measure the acceptance of human rights we applied situational questions picturing different groups (students of a Hungarian, Roma, refugee background) as exercising their political rights. The extent to which the respondents support the different groups measures their acceptance of human rights. The human rights acceptance index the is applied as an explanatory variable of activities supporting refugees (as volunteering or protesting against anti-refugee policies).
Human Rights vs. National Sovereignty: Contested Framings of the Refugee Situation in Europe
University of Vienna, Austria
Cleavages within society surfaced not only, but most visibly during the so-called summer of migration in 2015 and Europe’s subsequent restrictive border politics. Europe was entering an era when seemingly every citizen chose a side, the refugee situation thereby serving as a mere proxy for felt injustice and unease with the state of the world. But why do people have such fundamentally differing conceptualizations of society?
In my talk, I will use the example of civil society’s engagement for or their struggles against refugees to shed light on questions of sovereignty and solidarity. First, I will illustrate their respective reference frames and examine how they perceive these topics. I state that citizens who stand with refugees weigh human rights sovereignty higher than nation state sovereignty, whereas citizens protesting against refugees highlight nation state sovereignty. Following Hannah Arendt, a person is always allowed to leave their country, yet no country is obliged to take them in. Consequently, notions of solidarity and sovereignty are linked. By granting all power regarding asylum law to the sovereign, taking sides with or against refugees also means emphasizing your solidarity. Second, I will analyze these notions in the realm of social contract theory. Since ruling concepts shifted from one sovereign to, following Michel Foucault, a system of power, different conceptualizations of solidarity can stand next to and even oppose each other. The question is how European nation states as well as the EU decide to deal with it.
Conceptualizing solidarity amid opposed types of radicalization
1University of Barcelona, Spain; 2Oslo and Akershus University College, Norway
The economic and social crisis had an impact on the lives of European citizens related to their possibility to achieve good living conditions—such as employment, health care, educational opportunities… -- and to a growing mistrust towards current institutions and their capacity to guarantee these conditions and the related social rights. In front of this situation we witness two different social responses among citizens: excluding radicalization and a radicalization of democracy based on solidarity between citizens from below. This paper contributes to conceptualize the second type of social response. We will introduce the main theoretical contributions that guide the H2020 research project “SOLIDUS. Solidarity in European societies: empowerment, social justice and citizenship”, where researchers from twelve European countries are identifying successful solidarity actions on different policy areas (i.e. housing, health, employment, education and civic engagement). The findings are conceptualized through discussing different contributions from social theory: from Durkheim’s organic solidarity, to normative theories about goodness and justice developed by Rawls and Habermas, to the analysis of altruistic behaviours by Jon Elster, among other. The paper will also discuss the possible links between institutionalized solidarity and individual/collective solidarity in achieving social citizenship in Europe today.
A union of states or a union of peoples? Civic solidarity in the EU
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Community-based solidarity (as opposed to self-interested, "economic-rational" solidarity (Börner, 2014)) is generally considered more realistic, the smaller or more homogenous a solidary group is. This is due to the widespread perception that such solidarity, as a non-enforceable principle, however based on strong moral values, requires some common ground or identity in order to exist (see Stjernø, 2009). In this paper I aim to show that the EU as a union of states (see e.g. Forsyth, 1981) provides a basis for solidarity, if European citizens assume their responsibility as solidary agents. Why European citizens? European integration on the structural level has thus far mostly worked with European member states as ‘agents’ or ‘constituents’ of the EU. This somewhat technocratic process of forming a foremost economical, even if increasingly political and social union, has been criticized for possessing democratic deficits and is currently under attack from inside many member states (see e.g. Sangiovanni, 2013). I will attempt to argue that if solidarity is ever to be one of the fundamental European values (as official documents as the Charter claim), there needs to be an understanding that Europeans do share a common ground beyond economic gain, even though they may not possess a shared language, history, culture or identity. This common ground is based on historical experience, vicinity, as well as a shared wish to make the European continent a stable and peaceful place. It makes European citizens have special obligations of solidarity towards other Europeans – a type solidarity I take to exceed institutionalised forms of redistribution that is legally enforceable.