Social solidarity is the action or moral principle by which society as a whole tries to eliminate certain adverse situations that some of its members suffer. It is common in the face of natural disasters or terrorist acts of great magnitude.
From an academic point of view, social solidarity can be defined as a characteristic of the individual components of a social system , establishing interdependent relationships and acting as a whole.
Social solidarity according to Durkheim
When talking about social solidarity, it is impossible not to refer to the work of Émile Durkheim. This French sociologist dedicated himself to studying social relations in nineteenth-century industrial society , based mainly on understanding which factors could explain the way that society was organized. Durkheim came to the conclusion that solidarity explained the existence of a life in society .
Following this line of thought , social solidarity can be explained as follows. Each individual has a personal conscience that differentiates them from others and that reflects on the decisions taken during their usual day to day. In this way, this individual awareness is marked in large part by the characteristics of each person’s personality.
On the other hand, we can place collective or common consciousness in place of individual or personal consciousness. Thus, this awareness is a reflection of the combination of the various individual consciences of all people who are part of a society.
In this way, the collective conscience has a great influence on the actions of each individual through the establishment of a series of common moral values and feelings , for example, in the definition of what it means to be good, honorable, dishonest, wrong, etc.
Since then, according to Durkheim, social solidarity is the result of this collective consciousness, as it is responsible for the grouping of individuals as a social entity.
This last concept can be exemplified very well with the comparison of an indigenous tribe and a largely industrialized society . In the first case, there is a great feeling of unity among the members of the tribe, as together they go hunting every day and the women stay at home taking care of the children, no matter who the mother is. However, in an industrialized society , relations are much cooler and social solidarity does not appear as something natural or organic, but as a mechanical element that must be activated with some remote device.