Comparative Politics

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By Stefanie Börner (auth.)

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In terms of social security, this new type of national solidarity replaces the former sectional solidarities within families or local communities (Gerhards and Lengfeld 2009: 109). So by referring to the welfare state as a solidarity community, not only political actors or legislative texts but also scholars contribute to its construction. But as they differ in their mode of referring to solidarity, it is important to distinguish between who speaks and at which operational level one acts – that is, in analytical terms, which function it serves.

These inferences can be associative rather than logical and might be based on intuition or biased by emotions or social relations (Bayer 1999: 18–31). Therefore, an attempt to buttress social representations or constructions can be further supported by figures and rhetorical devices such as metaphors, comparisons or hyperbolas as well as referential expressions like ‘us’ and ‘them’ or ‘we’ and ‘they’ that signalise belonging to a group at the linguistic level. These basic strategies enhance the effect of what has been said; they are able to further consolidate, but also to break up and rearrange social representations and categories of belonging at the linguistic level.

For him ‘solidarity can best be understood as compliance in the absence of compensation’ (Hechter 1987: 10). Under the premises of this theory, solidarity is institutionally induced. Solidary communities are a function of their capability to sanction and monitor members, and of the degree to which members are dependent on this group to produce the desired collective good. Hence this is ideal for explaining how solidarity within mutual benefit societies was able to arise at all (for more details, see Chapter 4).

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