Sources of solidarity in superdiversity: a transversal analysis of 20 case-studies in Belgium
In the DieGem project (2013-2016), more than ten researchers, from various disciplinary backgrounds studied the development of innovative forms of solidarity in superdiversity in Brussels and Flanders. Through a transversal analysis of 20 case-studies conducted in factories, schools, sports fields, cultural projects and superdiverse neighborhoods spread over Flanders and Brussels, this paper focuses on the sources of solidarity. To do so, I will build upon a long lineage of sociological theories to derive four main sources of solidarity (interdependence, shared norms and values, joint struggle and encounter).
Each of these four sources specifies a distinct basis for feelings of shared fate and a specific perspective on the value and role of social difference in society. Each of them also reflects a particular ideological position on how societies develop social order, cohesion and solidarity (cfr. Oosterlynck et al., 2016). After identifying these four sources of solidarity, I will focus on their manifestation in the case-studies. First, I will indicate that encounters alone are rarely sufficient to nurture solidarity and that (combinations of) the three other sources are generally essential. Second, I will demonstrate that each of the four sources has an inclusionary as well as an exclusionary side, but that the fault lines of exclusion and belonging are not necessarily ethnic, cultural or national. Third, I will make it clear that it is crucial to negotiate the value of a contribution (in case of interdependence), the specific goal and methods of a joint struggle, the particular norms and values to be shared or the terms of an organized encounter if solidarity is to be nurtured. This conclusion also opens up an intervention perspective on solidarity in superdiversity.
Nick Schuermans is a postdoctoral researcher and teaching associate at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is the day-to-day coordinator of the interdisciplinary research program on Cities and Newcomers and a lecturer in the Erasmus Mundus MSc 4CITIES and the Msc Geography master’s degree programs. His current research builds upon his interest in the geographies of encounter and solidarity, and focuses on the role of diverse groups of professionals in the accommodation of newcomers in the city of Brussels.
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