chapter  10
13 Pages

Fluid solidarities: Affiliations beyond the nation


The concept of ‘solidarity’ is one of the oldest and paradoxically least developed concepts in the history of sociology. The first definite use of ‘solidarity’ as a sociological concept can be traced back to Ibn Khaldun in fourteenth-century North Africa. Older uses of analogous concepts in high-medieval European political theory could be encountered in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose work was itself heavily based on Aristotle’s Politics, predating him by fifteen centuries. Yet until Tönnies but especially Durkheim (1895) the term appears strangely to have remained marginal to social or political theory in general. With Durkheim, the concept of ‘solidarity’ finally assumed centrality in sociological theory. Curiously, however, in spite of subsequent commentaries and attempts, such a central concept has seen little progress since Durkheim’s formulation.