What is solidarity? Seeking clarity on an unclear idea

Dr Jacek Kołtan
Date 13/06/2023 at 17.30 - 13/06/2023 at 19.15 Where Gatsby Room (Chancellor's Centre) & Zoom

What does solidarity mean?



Solidarity – a word that according to most dictionaries expresses a feeling of unity between people of same interests or goals and support for one another because of shared aims. Do these definitions really capture the meaning of the phenomenon of solidarity? In his lecture, Dr Kołtan will argue that the dominant definitions of the word overlook its key feature. For solidarity is more about leaning out of the self to the other.

The modern idea of solidarity was born in the early nineteenth century, when people began to populate cities on a massive scale, breaking with traditional models of living and pursuing their individual life projects. Solidarity was therefore not to be another synonym for fraternity, brotherhood or charity, but was to replace them with a vision of a new, diverse and emancipating society. It was, after all, about individualised, unconnected, increasingly different people who had to start a struggle for political liberation. The problem of solidarity returns to us demanding that it be taken as seriously as the crucial ideals of modern democracy – freedom and equality. Are we ready to take up this challenge today?



Jacek Kołtan, PhD, philosopher and political scientist, Director’s Representative for Research at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk and assistant professor at the Pomeranian University. He studied at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Humboldt-Universität and Freie Universität in Berlin. His research interests cover social and political theory, history of solidarity idea, social movements, politics of memory and crisis of democracy (illiberalism in CEE). He is author of Solidarity, Democracy, Europe (co-ed. 2021), Solidarity and the Crisis of Trust (ed., 2016), Der Mitmensch. Zur Identitätsproblematik des sozialen Selbst ausgehend von der Frühphilosophie Martin Heideggers und Karl Löwiths (2012).



This is a hybrid event, which will take place in-person in the Gatsby Room (Chancellor's Centre) and also on Zoom.

If you would like to attend online, please register for the Zoom link.

Refreshments will be available for the in-person audience.


Centre for Geopolitics logo

The Humanities Society organises regular talks spanning a wide range of topics. Every Tuesday during term time. 

This event is organised in collaboration with the Centre for Geopolitics



This event will take place in the Gatsby Room on the first floor of the Chancellor's Centre. It has step-free access with a lift and there is an accessible toilet located each floor of the building.

For more details please view our AccessAble guide.

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