From Fraternity to Solidarity › view all

Lecture by Carol Gould

February 07, 2023 - 15:15-16:45
Online via Zoom,
Series: Social Sciences Lecture Series
Event type: public

Social Sciences Lecture Series (BIGSSS) with Carol Gould (City University New York) on "From Fraternity to Solidarity"

The lecture will take place online via Zoom. Please click here to join the lecture



Theorists and the public tend to use the terms “fraternity” and “solidarity” interchangeably. Yet, we can ask whether the model of fraternity--exemplified in the Three Musketeers and their slogan “All for one and one for all,” or in the bonds among members of a single nation, or in pernicious form in Ultranationalist or White Supremacist groups--can adequately characterize the sorts of transnational solidarities most needed today. Traditional understandings take solidarity to require not only standing with fellow group members or compatriots but also necessarily standing against, and even fighting, an “other.” In this paper, I will argue that feminist approaches that highlight notions such as care, mutuality, empathy, and difference have much to contribute to an enriched conception of solidarity more suited to address core problems of contemporary societies, including entrenched inequalities and crossborder crises like climate change. I will draw on my earlier notion of networking solidarities, especially in activist and often transnational social movements, which contrast with the traditional unitary solidarities that pertain to the internal relations among members of a group, who stand in the same relation to each other and to the group as a whole (although the groups are often hierarchical in practice). The willingness to provide mutual aid, (a core feature of both unitary and networking types of solidarity), can benefit from a feminist interpretation that prioritizes care and can better account for difference and intersectionality. In both ideal types—the unitary and the networking models--this would require greater openness to outsiders and some measure of empathy with them, provided the others broadly share the overall aims, regarding them as co-participants in a common project. (The paper will also take note of and address some of the limitations of this notion of empathy in application to solidarity, which should foreground a political readiness to take action.) Although all types of solidarity most often involve struggle, a feminist approach would argue for agonistic relations with others, if possible, rather than wholly antagonistic ones. It would call for egalitarian relations among group members and the use of democratic decision-making for setting plans and policies. Additional transformations would concern the ends or aims of solidaristic action beyond the means or methods used. Here the focus would be on overcoming oppression—whether of gender, race, or class--and on providing care and equalizing its burdens, now unequally distributed both within societies and globally.



Carol C. Gould is Distinguished Professor in the Philosophy Department at Hunter College and in the Doctoral Programs in Philosophy and Political Science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she also serves as Director of the Center for Global Ethics & Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.  She is Editor of the Journal of Social Philosophy.

Learn more about Carol Gould on her website.