Friendship and solidarity

Harry Blatterer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores a particular connection between friendship and social solidarity and seeks to contribute to understanding the societal significance of non-institutionalised relationships. Commonly the benefits of friendship are assumed to accrue to friends only. But this is only part of the story. Friendship, as instantiation of intimacy and site of moral learning, is conducive to solidarity understood as felt concern for unknown others. That potentiality rests on a specific characteristic: friendship’s loose institutional anchorage. Beginning with an explanation of friendship’s institutional deficit, the article elaborates Durkheim’s ‘positive solidarity’ juxtaposed with Honneth’s recent take on solidarity. It then discusses the contribution (partial) personal relationships make to (impartial) morality, before turning to the specifics of moral learning in friendship. Finally, the article argues that although undesirable as social organising principle, friendship’s institutional deficit renders it conducive to the relational acquisition of a comprehensive understanding of solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Durkheim
  • Honneth
  • intimate friendship
  • moral learning
  • positive solidarity


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