Call for papers: research seminar ‘Solidarity and Social Distance’

On Friday, November 18, 2011, the research Group Solidarity in the 21st Century of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) organizes its second research seminar. The theme of the research seminar is ‘solidarity and social distance’.
Social distance, either in an objective or an subjective sense, is often thought to be an important determinant of social cohesion and social solidarity. The greater the social distance between two individuals, the weaker their social bond. Objective social distance can refer to, e.g., physical proximity, socio-economic distance or religious difference, while subjective social distance can be affective (likeability), cognitive (perceived difference in characteristics) or normative (in-group vs. out-group).
By social solidarity we mean any act that benefits another person without immediately getting something in return. It refers both to formal solidarity (e.g., social transfers through the state) and to informal solidarity (e.g., voluntary work, neighbourly help).

The central question we would like to address is: what is the causal relationship between social distance and social solidarity? This includes more specific questions such as:

  • How should social distance be measured? Is it a subjective or an objective phenomenon?
  • To what extent are different forms of social distance, e.g. physical proximity, cultural distance, socio-economic distance, normative distance, related to each other?
  • Does social distance affect all forms of social solidarity in the same way or does it have different effects on, for example, formal and informal solidarity or on one-sided (unilateral) and two-sided (reciprocal) solidarity?
  • Does greater social distance necessarily reduce solidarity, or might it also enhance solidarity?
  • Is there a reverse causal link, too, i.e. does solidarity also affect subjective social distance?
  • Which factors, such as the mass media, mediate the relationship between social distance and solidarity?

We cordially invite researchers to submit an abstract of a paper which addresses one of these or other related issues, to be presented at the research seminar on November 18. Abstracts with a maximum of 250 words should be send to Merle Zwiers ( no later than September 30, 2011.

The research seminar will be held at the premises of the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Admission will be free. Further information can be found on the website of the research group.

| More