Dimensions of a civic consciousness: Mechanisms of social solidarity in contemporary Sweden
School of Social Sciences Södertörn University Huddinge, Sweden
Department of Sociology Uppsala University Uppsala, Sweden
Contemporary sociology is strong in conceptualising social life in terms of cleavages and differences, conflicts of interest or identity, mechanisms of segregration and social exclusion. It is much less concerned with conceptualising, let alone observing, the solidarity and social "bind" that exist also in our modern, complex and individualised societies. This type of social bond has little to do with community or Gemeinschaft relationships. The paper departs from Durkheim's conviction that there is a collective life also in Gesellschaft, which it is the task of the sociologist to study. It is, however, argued that Durkheim's notion of "organic solidarity" is unsuitable to capture this bond. Durkheim's notion of a "civic morality", which can bridge the moral codes of various social groups, is more useful. The paper aims at conceptualising as well as empirically investigating the social bonds and mechanisms of social integration/solidarity that exist in contemporary Sweden. For this purpose, the paper introduces the notions of "civic consciousness" and "civic co-feeling" as sociological categories. The paper also addresses the specific combination of individualism and collectivism that is distinctive for Swedish civic culture.