Beyond social cohesion: The role of ‘Fusion of Horizons’ in inter-group solidarities

  • Stavroula Tsirogianni London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Eleni Andreouli London School of Economics and Political Science


British policies towards immigration have recently been preoccupied with cultivating a sense of social cohesion among ethnic and cultural groups in the United Kingdom. Such policies highlight the increasing uneasiness of the British state regarding cultural diversity, which is seen as being at odds with solidarity. In this paper we move away from this dichotomy between solidarity and cultural diversity and the pursuit of social cohesion and order to propose that solidarity is not a universal social and cultural condition to be achieved, but a transient part of the process of intergroup understanding. Drawing on Gadamer, we argue that intergroup solidarities are temporary bonds that already exist between groups but need to be brought to consciousness through a ‘fusion of horizons’. We look at British people’s representations of immigration and the tensions that arise out of their encounters with the perspective of the ‘other’. We provide an analysis of the conditions that permeate the process of fusion through a study on social values conducted in London with members of the British public.

Author Biographies

Stavroula Tsirogianni, London School of Economics and Political Science

STAVROULA TSIROGIANNI is a research fellow at the Methodology Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests include social values, social change, existential phenomenology, cultural trauma and public perceptions of science and technology. She retains a strong research interest in the areas of value dilemmas and value pluralism and how these relate to creativity, work authenticity, citizenship and social change.

Eleni Andreouli, London School of Economics and Political Science

ELENI ANDREOULI completed her PhD at the Institute of Social Psychology of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her doctoral research explores processes of national identity construction from the perspectives of different stakeholders within the British naturalisation context. Her research interests lie in the fields of social representations, identity, intergroup relations, citizenship, immigration and integration in multicultural societies. She is also currently working on a research project on representations of ageing in the UK.