What is solidarity? Study proposes a common ground

Posted on 05-05-2020
Young woman holding paper with solidarity message

How do you define solidarity? How can you show it or recognise it around you?

Delivering the European Solidarity Corps Programme at the UK National Agency makes us think about it – a lot. Answers to these questions, however, can vary a lot too.

You can also tell us what solidarity means to you by tagging us on Twitter (@eucorps_UK).

Amongst a diversity of thoughts and approaches, a new research conducted by the European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre proposes a common ground to solidarity, based on four important pillars. 

The findings from the ‘4Thought for Solidarity’ research study was launched in April 2020. Its main aim was to find out  what the concept of solidarity means to different people and what the most common concepts are, to assist in the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps by clarifying what is meant by a solidarity activity.

Although the survey and interviews were conducted before the Coronavirus outbreak, the current climate has brought solidarity to the forefront of many discussions. Keep reading to find out how diverse views can still build bridges.

Common ground of solidarity

The study ‘4Thought for Solidarity’ tries to understand the concept (or concepts) and start a series of debates and discussions. The authors Susie Nicodemi and Snežana Bačlija Knoch shared their findings during a livestream on 21 April. 

The picture that emerged initially was not well defined due to a variety of perspectives (depending on the context people are in and their background), contradictory understandings, and the lack of a singular notion of solidarity on policy documents, laws etc for different countries. 

Despite that, the authors identified a need for solidarity, and this was the beginning of a common ground. Four main concepts were highlighted by the majority of respondents as most aligning to the concept of solidarity, both in theory and in practice. They are:

  • human rights;
  • active citizenship;
  • inclusion; and
  • empathy.

“They are not new words. I’m sure many of you recognise them, as the legacy of our previous mobility programmes, of youth work practice and so on, but there you go – they are connected to solidarity”, said Snezana during the livestream presentation. 

These four pillars are supported by seven supporting concepts, which were also highlighted to a lesser extent by participants:

  • social justice;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • support;
  • strengthen communities;
  • active participation;
  • volunteering; and 
  • responsibility.

Main concepts around solidarity, illustration by Coline Robin

These seven concepts complement the common ground of solidarity, but they also add more nuances and more aspects to be explored. It is important to have these main findings in mind when developing solidarity activities with and for young people.

In total, over 100 young people, practitioners, policy makers and researchers responded to an online survey and interviews.

“By having these four sectors involved in our study, we really got a feel and a real diverse contribution from different needs in the field and individual’s perspectives, different geographical, historical, or cultural perspectives”, explained Susie during the launch. 

“We hope that the ‘solidarity cake’, as we call it, would help to stimulate dialogue in this way, which is why we wanted to include these bottom layers as well. Not only giving a formula, the top layers, but all the others that we feel are very important to use when discussing solidarity”, she added. 

According to the Resource Centre: “The idea was that this common ground would bring clarity and a frame to the continued implementation of the European Solidarity Corps and would help different stakeholders to orientate themselves within its frame.”

The report encompasses dilemmas, open questions and discussions that were created around the concepts of solidarity through the 4Thought process and considerations for further developments within the programme.

The researchers concluded: “The momentum should be used to make sure that we act in solidarity now and with the future”. Are you ready?


What is solidarity for you? Don't forget to share your answer by tagging us on Twitter (@eucorps_UK) and help inspire solidarity!


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