Norms, Values, and Emotions as Bases of Solidarity

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A very different approach of solidarity states that people come to feel

committed to each other because they experience mutual attraction and

want to identify with others and act loyally toward them. Solidarity starts

with feelings of mutual connectedness. This view can be found in the

work of Mayhew (1971). According to him solidary behavior is often

organized in certain institutions, which he calls “systems of solidarity.”

An example is the family. Its function is “encouraging, stabilising, and

regulating patterns of attraction, repulsion, loyalty, and identity within a

population” (1971: 68). But solidarity is not restricted to kinship systems.

People feel solidaritywith all sorts of communities, ethnic groups, groups

of colleagues, religious groupings, or even nations.Mayhew distinguishes

between four forms of solidarity. First is the primary ties of affection

between people, or attraction. When ag roup member not only feels

attracted to the group but also cares for the unity of the group and the

group ends, loyalty is involved. The other two forms of solidarity are

not so much based on direct emotional attachment to others but rather

on afeeling of belonging to the group, or identification. Identification

with a group often surpasses attraction or loyalty; for instance, people

may identify with homosexuals, blacks, or people of higher education,

as a group. The fourth form of solidarity is association; this solidarity

transcends established group identities and distinctions. The latter two

forms of solidarity correspond to Durkheim’s organic solidarity, whereas

the more direct attraction among individuals resembles his mechanical


Arelated perspective can be found inEtzioni’swork. Inaccordancewith

the communitarian tradition in American philosophy and social science,

Etzioni (1988) pleads for the revaluation of “the moral dimension.” He

criticizes what he calls the neoclassical paradigm because it rests upon

a rationalistic, utilitarian, and individualistic picture of human nature.

This picture is wrong, says Etzioni. People do feel commitment toward

the community; they do have a sense of shared identity and shared moral

values. Choices that people make are often inspired by affective and normative

motives.Moreover, individuals have only limited intellectual and

cognitive capacities, which prevents them from surveying all possible

consequences of their actions. Most choices are therefore not rational at

all, or only to a limited degree. In short, people are not merely striving

for their own pleasure or profits but act also on the basis of internalized

values and shared norms. The neoclassical paradigmhas not only ignored

the moral dimension but has denied its existence.

In the next sections I combine elements from both sociological and

anthropological theories relevant to the theme of solidarity, including

the functions of ritual for solidarity and cohesion that have not yet been