The Legitimacy and Strength of National, European, and Global Solidarity

Philosophical Arguments and Empirical Findings


  • Jürgen Gerhards Freie Universität Berlin Institut für Soziologie


Solidarity, European Solidarity, Cosmopolitanism, Communitarianism


The article distinguishes between three different territorial spaces of solidarity: solidarity between citizens of the same nation state, solidarity between member states and the citizens within the EU, and global solidarity in the sense of solidarity with countries and citizens outside of the EU. Based on a survey conducted in 13 EU countries, we examine the extent to which citizens are willing to support people within the three solidarity spaces. The strength of different solidarity spaces is, however, not only an empirical question, but is related to a controversial debate in social philosophy. Cosmopolitans argue that support for people in need should have a global outreach and not stop at any border, while communitarians assume that solidarity is based on connectedness and requires common institutions. Empirical findings support the communitarian view of solidarity. Solidarity with citizens of one's own country receives the greatest support. At the same time, the majority of respondents are also in favor of European solidarity, although the level of solidarity at the European level is below the level of nation-state support. Finally, the results show that European solidarity enjoys significantly higher support than universal, global solidarity.






Plenum 3 - Europa inmitten globaler Spannungen