Classical and contemporary approaches to the study of solidarity: Challenges and perspectives under destructuration

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Since the 19th century, when the development of the ‘modern society’ accelerated, social cohesion factors have become relevant for theory and practice. Such issues as the national states’ development and emerging political parties, the division of labor and class and professional forms of solidarity have formed the agenda of both academic and policymaking debates. In recent decades, there has been another round of interest in the study of social cohesion and sustainability under de-colonization, emancipation, inequality and technological changes. Under the global pandemic, the issue of solidarity has become particularly acute. The covid-19 has created a new reality: millions of people live in the forced social isolation, and such key social institutions as education, culture and healthcare have been reconstructed with the usual forms of interpersonal interaction eliminated. This situation requires rethinking the rights and obligations of individuals together with the forms of appropriate social control and regulation. For instance, the ability of individuals to take initiative at the micro-level (like volunteer projects) turned out to be especially important for the public well-being. The authors consider the research on solidarity in social sciences taking into account the current trends of structural instability or ‘destructuration’. The authors analyze both classical theories of solidarity and contemporary related concepts to prove that microsociology focuses primarily on the reproduction of social structures rather than on their transformation by proactive individual or group agency. Moreover, the tradition of structural macro-analysis also ignores the formation of solidarity at the micro-level. The authors refer to the works of P.A. Sorokin and M. Archer who consider individuals as capable of proactive formation of solidarity. In contemporary studies, the authors identify two main approaches to the analysis of solidarity - rational and structure-determined, and analyze other prospective approaches developing at the intersection of philosophy and psychology. The authors conclude by suggesting some directions in the study of the solidarity-oriented individual action and its impact on societal development.

About the authors

P. S. Sorokin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Author for correspondence.

кандидат социологических наук, старший научный сотрудник Института образования

Potapovsky Per., 16-10, Moscow, 101000, Russia

T. A. Popova

National Research University Higher School of Economics


стажер-исследователь Института образования

Potapovsky Per., 16-10, Moscow, 101000, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2021 Sorokin P.S., Popova T.A.

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