According to Pensky (2008), solidarity is the status of intersubjectivity, in which a number of persons are bound together into definite relations (9). With reference to Feinberg, Dworkin, Durkheim and Halls, Cureton (2012) describes solidarity as.
a matter of a group of people being united or at one with regard to something (sympathies, interests, values, etc.), having genuine concern for each other’s welfare, respecting others as group members, trusting one another not to intentionally undermine or free ride on the group, taking pride in the group as a whole, being ashamed of its failures and suffering loss or betrayal if members of the group do not live up to the requirements that the group places on itself, and perhaps having certain other affections for one’s compatriot. (696)
Rorty (1989) believes that solidarity is not what every person has in advance, it is “not discovered, but created via reflection” (xvi). Creation of solidarity is the community’s task accomplishing which starts at the community itself, the place we are (Rorty, 1989, xvi). Meanwhile Gadamer (2009) argues that solidarity could be discovered, not created. Nevertheless, he thinks that a “real solidarity must be conscious” (39), it includes the elements of unity, respect for differences and mutual understanding (Warnke, 2012, 13). Despite these different approaches, the insights of philosophers reveal the dynamism of solidarity, the ability to consciously create or discover it, and at the same time to encourage and nurture it.
In their analysis of solidarity motives, some sociologists highlight instrumentalism and utilitarianism, while others emphasise values and socially-based obligations. For example, solidarity could be encouraged by the rational egoism, avoidance of punishment and the pursuit of personal gain or reward (Komter, 2005, 113–115). These approaches express the instrumental solidarity of members of a liberal individualistic society, where cooperation in order to meet personal needs becomes a paramount in a market economy (Bieliauskaitė, 2009, 83). Proponents of another view equate solidarity not with rational calculation but with a sense of unity and the values of the community in which the person lives. For example, communitarians believe that people have a sense of identity and moral values and feel committed to the community. In other words, people “(…) not only seek pleasure or benefit, but also act on the basis of internalised values and common norms” (Komter, 2005, 116). This solidarity theory emphasises the person’s belonging to a particular group. In this case, we can speak about ethnic, cultural, intergenerational solidarity, or we solidarity, that does not anonymously unite any member of any society, but exists in particular communities with their own traditions and specificities.
The development of various aspects of togetherness requires social interaction and, accordingly, coordination as a “key feature of solidarity” (Koudenburg et al., 2013, 1). This coordination is based on rules that are a constitutive part of solidarity relationships with one another (Cureton, 2012, 692). Here, Cureton (2012) means social moral rules, while Durkheim saw legal regulation as a key to the maintenance of social solidarity (Johnson et al., 2017, 649).
Although different authors indicate different motives for solidarity, it is generally acknowledged that one of the most important features of solidarity is the pursuit of a common goal (Butler, 2010; Cureton, 2012; Dawson & Verweij, 2012; Gadamer, 2009 etc.). Goals can be different and therefore, as Moroz and Swabovski (2017) observe, solidarity is not an autonomous term. Rather, it depends on social functions: what community is produced by this term and for what purpose (149). In their considerations about academic solidarity, authors assume that it:
has, in fact, two functions. Firstly, it mystifies real conflicts in the university. Secondly, it is a way to keep privileges over other workers (inside and outside academia). In general, academic solidarity, both in the feudal academy and in the neo-liberal education factory, blocks emancipatory practice and the possibility of solidarity that is wider and based on values other than being obedient and deferring to power. This solidarity is very dark. (Moroz & Swabovski, 2017, 153)
These insights illustrate instrumental solidarity and are definitely worthy attention. However, the author of this paper believes that solidarity has a bright side as well and follows the communitarian line of we solidarity by assuming that the goal of solidarity is oriented towards the welfare of society or community which, accordingly, could be a basis for the welfare of its individual members. What could be the motives of solidarity and common goals in academia?
Individuals become members of the academic community following a variety of reasons. In the ideal case, one or another study programme is chosen in order to become an expert and to provide professional services to society. On the other hand, these motives could also be egoistic: we study because we are convinced that the knowledge, skills, or at least the fact of studies proved by a higher education diploma, will help us getting a (better) job, earning a (higher) salary, etc. or just because we enjoy studying (on the variety of students’ motivation and goals see more: Lieberman & Remedios, 2007; Serdiuk, 2012). Similarly, professors may deliver their lectures not only because they need to sustain themselves and their families, but because they understand the impact of their professional activity on future society (on the variety of university instructors’ motivation and goals see more: Daumiller et al., 2019). Thus, the definition of a common goal of the academic community becomes complicated, since it is affected not only by motives of a particular person but also by their status in academia.
Nonetheless, the author of this paper believes that it is possible to find a common goal that unites the members of the academic community as well as the whole of society. It is (could be) a sustainable development of society which is inconceivable without respect for each of its members and, accordingly, for human rights and freedoms. This goal is directly linked to the academic community, which not only prepares professionals of various fields to help achieve these goals, but also develops respect for individuals, their rights and freedoms. As it is enshrined in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter – Declaration), this Declaration is “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education (emphasised by the author) to promote respect for these rights and freedoms (…)” (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). These provisions are reflected in national legislation and thus shape national (higher) education policies, which accordingly affect both institutional and individual goals and motivation.
In their analysis of the issue of solidarity, sociologists distinguish two – micro and macro – hypothetical contracts (Komter, 2005, 145–146). The author of this paper presumes that similar contracts could also be detected in an academic environment. For example, a microsocial contract brings together members or their groups of a particular academic community. The existence of this contract could not only be deduced from traditions and values of a particular group or community, but also could have tangible expression in study or job contracts that establish commitment of students, lecturers, and administrative staff to the provisions of regulations of higher education, which in turn can also be considered as agreement to act one or another way and thus to maintain values of a particular academic community. Meanwhile, the macrosocial contract is a hypothetical agreement between members of society on social goals and their establishment in certain legal documents, e.g. a constitution. Thus, solidarity based on macrosocial contract extends beyond a single academic community and brings together not only the academic communities of a given country, but also the relevant governmental and non-governmental institutions, organisations and society in general. In addition, according to the Guidelines, it is desirable that solidarity ties in the academic field should also include the academic communities of different countries as well as international governmental and non-governmental institutions, organisations and the international community in general. In this case, we can talk about a megasocial contract.
On this basis it is possible to define several meanings and forms of academic solidarity (Fig. 1). In the narrow sense, academic solidarity is a sense of community, unity, shared interests, shared responsibility, and mutual support in a particular academic community. Here, relatively small groups – students, lecturers and administration – could be distinguished. The united interaction within these groups in pursuit of their goals can be called fragmented academic solidarity. Such solidarity can be both positive when the individual group focuses on achieving the common goal of the academic community (by sharing material that is difficult to access (students), developing new study programmes (lecturers) etc.) and negative when solid activities of members of these groups contradict or deny goals and values of academia (e.g. tolerance of a fellow’s misconduct). In addition, these groups could also demonstrate their mutual solidarity in both positive and negative ways (see more examples in Bieliauskaitė & Valavičienė, 2019; Valavičienė & Bieliauskaitė, 2019). Fragmented solidarity could also appear as collegiality, which is explained using such concepts as “community, respect, value of colleagues and their work, concern for one another, and a feeling of inclusion” (Schmidt et al., 2017, p. 29).
However, solidarity of the entire academic community is also important here. In this case, solidarity ties become more complex, i.e. they not only bring together students, lecturers and academic staff individually, but all of these groups into one academic community, united by integral (solid) academic solidarity in pursuit of common goals and values established in academia’s mission, strategy and other documents and maintained by the code of ethics (conduct).
Meanwhile, in a broad sense, academic solidarity is the unity, shared responsibility and mutual support of society that unites individuals as well as various institutions, international or national, state or non-governmental organisations in the academic field. It appears in the context of macro- and megasocial contracts.