Communities of Solidarity in Superdiversity: Recognizing Interdependencies in Place As a Source of Solidarity

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Stijn OOSTERLYNCK, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Thomas SWERTS, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Nick SCHUERMANS, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
The increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in Western societies challenges established national communities of solidarity, which are rooted in a presumed shared history and a set of national norms and values that are transferred from one generation to the next. As migration and globalisation erodes national boundaries and disrupts the perceived historical continuity on which nation-states and their institutional solidarity arrangements are predicated, we call for a shift of our analytical focus to specific places and joint projects as vehicles for building superdiverse communities of solidarity. This analytical shift entails the mobilization of interdependencies in place as source of solidarity, contrary to the focus on shared values and norms as the privileged source of solidarity in many public diversity policies.

We develop a transversal analysis of 20 case studies of the conditions under which superdiverse communities of solidarity in places such as factories, schools, sports fields, cultural projects and superdiverse neighborhoods develop. Our analysis highlights how superdiverse communities of solidarity can be constituted through ‘joint projects’ in which a diverse group of citizens recognizes their interdependencies and takes joint responsibility for the places they share.

Our analysis contributes to existing scholarship on communities of solidarity in a superdiverse context in at least three ways. First, we show how the recognition of interdependencies in place is a powerful, but much ignored driver for the constitution of communities of solidarity in superdiversity. Secondly, we observe how interdependencies are rarely sufficient as a source of solidarity for communities, but are articulated in many different ways with one or more of the other three aforementioned sources of solidarity. Thirdly, we argue that the value of a contribution to a community of solidarity (in case of interdependence), should not be pre-defined, but negotiated with everyone present, if solidarity is to be nurtured in superdiverse places.