Solidarity born of crisis: the development of solidarity from the French Revolution until the present, with Émile Durkheim and Jürgen Habermas

Elliott, Alexander (2018) Solidarity born of crisis: the development of solidarity from the French Revolution until the present, with Émile Durkheim and Jürgen Habermas. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The aim of the thesis is to chart the development of the term solidarity as it appears in the European social and political thought tradition. It traces the emergence of the term in its modern form from around the time of the French Revolution to the present. The thesis is divided into three parts, the historical background in France in the early nineteenth century; the consolidation, application and limiting of solidarity theory by Durkheim and its final exhaustion in Habermas’s political thought. A historical perspective is maintained throughout the thesis. However this is not a straightforward intellectual history of a concept. The historical analysis that is present, particularly in the first third of the thesis, is given to show the relationship of solidarity to crisis. Placing the theoretical debates of solidarity into a historical picture allows for a comparative and linked progression to become visible. This helps to demonstrate that solidarity discourse tends to react to social and political reality, in a way that is rarely appreciated in the literature. The central claim is that writing on solidarity cannot be made sense of unless it is historically situated. Solidarity is a chameleon concept changing to fit its environment, be that in theory or in practice. The refusal to be definitively defined is one of solidarity’s more enduring, interesting and significant characteristics. It is this discussion that adds to a growing but very much underdeveloped literature on solidarity. Finally, whilst some form of solidarity must be present for society to function, this thesis argues that there needs to be a serious rethink of the way that it is currently understood, beyond the archetypal writings of Durkheim and Habermas.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0711 Groups and organisations > HM0716 Social groups. Group dynamics > HM0717 Solidarity. Unity
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 11:54
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2020 06:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78581

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