By Stefanie Börner (auth.)

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The assumption is therefore self-evident that with growing internal heterogeneity and the increasing size of a group, the mobilisation of solidarity becomes harder and requires efforts of abstraction from its members. Actually, to link solidarity to the welfare state, the nation or the European Union means to speak of the concept in constructivist terms. 1 The empirical analysis will show that even the image of the local communities of equals should not be taken for granted. This chapter develops an understanding of solidarity based on a slightly extended constructivist perspective that also takes into account actors’ interests.

6 Diachronic comparisons are not about equating; that is, claiming undue parallels between past and present processes that lead to ‘anachronistic inferences’ (Klausen and Tilly 1997: 18). Quite the contrary, comparing does not only mean to put past processes on a level with recent ones but to open one’s eyes also to the differences (Matthes 1992; Haupt and Kocka 1996). So the crucial question is not the validity of analogies but at which level of abstraction diachronic comparisons can be conducted and what kind of prediction one has to expect (Vobruba 2012a).

For instance, the relationship between the welfare state and the nation state becomes theoretically important (see Moreno and McEwen 2005; Béland and Lecours 2008; Senghaas 2012) when this nexus is called into question, or the preconditions for social integration may be reinvestigated when this integration cannot be substantiated anymore by traditional means and resources. Thereby, researchers base their theoretical insights on historical evidence or develop new theoretical concepts in order to explain or describe the present.

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