Social Responsibility, Public Interest, Solidarity

Posited as a stimulus for action or inaction. Social responsibility defines the total set of moral  imperatives that have been tacitly conveyed through the norms of civil society, not extensively and explicitly through its judicial process. In other words, it is constituted by the network of politicized agents that intermediate between autonomous individuals and the state through collective opinion and action.  Consideration of social responsibility provides the individual with a rubric for what to do and what not to do, regardless of the specific dictates of the law. Although social responsibility is often framed with universalizing rhetoric, it does not necessarily account for the interest of  all members of a society; its mandates are prone to appropriation by the dominant political or economic regime.

Public Interest is a realized or unrealized set of potential economic, political, and social actions that benefit a specific demographic group, most commonly defined by the citizenship of a particular nation-state. The assumed positive nature of such actions should optimally serve the “common good”, a bundle of collectively agreed upon beliefs concerning rights, justice, and virtue. While public interest has long been marked as the territory of the state, today there is much evidence that the state’s exclusive claims on such provisions have been eroded as it increasingly takes action to represent private interests. Widespread distrust in state actors and the rise in influence and number of non-governmental actors are resultants of this obfuscation of the barriers between the public and private sectors and the motives of the actors therein.  With the growing deficit of provisions of the common good by the state, it is often non-governmental organizations that work to guarantee actions in consideration of the public interest by facilitating the production of the “common good” through governmental coercion or autonomous action.

Solidarity is a strong form of perceived or real relational bonds established socially through identified similarities of interests, ambitions, dependencies, or conditions. The specificity of identified similarities can exist on a spectrum from individual to universal traits.  Participation in this type of relational bond can be culturally inherited through historic norms, in the example of kinship and familial networks, or constructed, through affinity groups or other organizational structures.  In some cases similarities may not be obviously apparent, necessitating a more active, participatory, construction of connections and consolidation of intentions.  Solidarity can be achieved as long as the imagined similarity leads to an establishment of co-dependence and co-benefit and a vested ambition to protect and promote identified common interests.

 

– Andrew Baird + Will Martin

Andrew Baird

3 Comments

  1. Although it may not account for all members overall it’s a strive to recognize social and cultural enrichment of everyone within society. As a whole taking into consideration and feelings of ethical obligation that act in different ways to benefit society. To which extent is social responsibility achieved as a form of over power or for a positive impact on the development of society and its contributions that targets all. However, keeping in mind the ethical rationale behind it all.

  2. What is the collective opinion that the state uses to determine what social responsibility? In reality, is it a political distinction at all? It seems that since social responsibility is something that often crosses borders between nations with individuals from one country providing aid to another, it does not have much to do with the government at all.
    In terms of public interest, what exactly is the “common good” that people claim to be serving? Who determines what is good for a specific group of people? Often it seems like the concept of “common good” and therefore public interest as well are manufactured by those outside of the community. While it is possible that they are correct in their assumptions, it is also possible that those who are being helped do not see themselves as in need. As a result, increased community participation is necessary in order for public interest projects to be successful.

  3. In response to your definition of solidarity, I would like to add that, though solidarity always is imagined in some sense, it can be downright false in certain cases, and can obscure genuine differences among members of a group, often with negative consequences. For example, it is easy for us to refer to all “fellow Americans,” or say that we’re all part of the human race (a very uncritical version of humanism) that actually distorts that fact that many so-called Americans are in a position of subjugation. I suggest that one of the fastest ways to achieving a genuine solidarity, a sense of members who share the same conditions as you, are the two questions that Foucault tells us to ask ourselves, “How are we being governed? How can we not be governed like that?” (Foucault, “What is Critique?”)

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