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Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité were the famous keywords of the French Revolution. Modern philosophy reflected intensely on the concepts of freedom and equality, but neglected fraternity or rather solidarity. Hence, solidarity remained a “wishy-washy concept” (Jaeggi 2001, 287) until today. In my presentation I suggest conceptualizing solidarity as a form of life. That means: I will put forward the thesis that solidarity can be understood as a bundle of social practices, which pursue a particular goal and which are based on common judgments about the social world. It makes a difference, however, whether solidarity is practiced within a social group (as shared solidarity) or performed with regard to other individuals or social groups, since the social practices involved are different as well as their foundation (while the goal is often the same, namely to establish social relationships, in which people fulfill other’s desires by fulfilling their own). Conceptualizing solidarity as a form of life offers three considerable advantages: (1.) The distinction between shared and sympathetic solidarity allows one to analyze the challenge of ‘globalizing’ solidarity – in terms of overcoming the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ as well as with regard to learning from less developed societies with stronger shared solidarity. (2.) The account enables one also to identify the political battlefields of solidarity (commoning vs. un-commoning shared solidarity; creating sympathetic sympathy vs. provoking antipathy) and (3.) it permits to grasp the economic dimension of solidarity, namely to organize the economical in such a way that it leads to mutual fulfillment of needs and desires.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Solidarity as a Form of Life“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.