Rudolf Stichweh - Normativity and Solidarity in the World Society


Since their rise after World War II theories of World Society have often been characterized by an intellectual bifurcation. They either had a rationalistic bent and described world society as only being based on network structures of interrelation and on the institutionalization of cognitive expectations (in science, knowledge systems, civil and military technologies). Or they looked at World Society as a kind of Utopia which presupposed the cessation of serious macroconflicts and the realization of humanistic ideals.

The talk will try to demonstrate that both theories are insufficient, even wrong. It will instead argue for the symmetry of cognitive and normative expectations and structures in the rise of world society as a historical process since the fourteenth century. The argument will consist from four steps: 1. A technical remark on the status of the concept of solidarity in social theory. 2. A brief look at the historical semantics of world society and the strong normative and solidaristic traditions in this semantics. 3. An argument for the universality of normative expectations in all the function systems of world society. 4. An overview of societal forms of the institutionalization of solidarity.

Rudolf Stichweh, University of Bonn, Forum Internationale Wissenschaft Bonn, Heussallee 18-24, D-53113 Bonn,