The Art of Political Solidarity


Dougherty, Simon Anton. (2017). The Art of Political Solidarity [Thesis].
AuthorsDougherty, Simon Anton
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Waves of contemporary social justice movements keep bringing people together to address urgent crises of our time. In their attempts to mitigate economic inequality, social oppression, and climate change, social movements draw upon everyday practices to re/generate political solidarity in ways that can preserve or transform the world. In doing so, movements build collective capacities to identify problems, develop political solutions, and create new economic, social, and ecological relationships.

My thesis complements these efforts by re-thinking political solidarity to better understand how it can be practiced in more thoughtful, sustainable, and effective ways. I use a mix of philosophical methods—genealogy, perspicuous representation, hermeneutics, situational analysis, and normative and conceptual argumentation—to better understand the meanings, motivations, practices, and prospects for political solidarity today.

What does political solidarity mean? What moves people to come together and take collective action? How do social movements sustain solidarity throughout their lifecycles, and across time and difference, in order to achieve their goals? How can we improve our understanding of solidarity, our involvement in it, and the practices which sustain it in order to achieve greater economic equality, social freedom, and environmental sustainability?

The Art of Political Solidarity responds to these questions by arguing that collective political action and transformational struggle are crafts which require the development of skill and know-how. My thesis argues for a distinctive mode of solidarity that involves practices of reflection, affectual attunement, skill cultivation, and proto-typing the new worlds that communities of practice are trying to expand or bring into being. Each practice offers ways to overcome the limits of outmoded conceptualisations, debilitating affects, and rigid models of solidarity. By re-iterating, re-articulating, and refining the art of political solidarity, we partake in an apprenticeship of social change that increases our capacities to come together and build a better world.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupInstitute for Social Justice
Final version
Publication dates01 Jan 2017
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