Political Altruism? deals with participation in political activities aimed at defending the rights of other individuals and groups, such as asylum seekers, immigrant workers, populations of Third World countries, and people whose fundamental human rights are being harmed. Solidarity movements have become an important collective actor in contemporary western societies, yet virtually no scholarly work up to now has addressed them theoretically and empirically. This volume shows why political altruism is better seen as the result of social interactions rather than of a supposedly altruistic outburst. Contributors address the theoretical questions at the core of social movement theory, using country-specific studies including France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the US, while also examining the growing internationalization of solidarity movements, their outcomes and consequences.
In defiance of narrow-minded theories in the social sciences--as well as repressive states--citizens around the world continue to take collective action to help others. People take risks on behalf of others less fortunate and try to make the world more just when it would be easier to do nothing. Marco Giugni and Florence Passy have assembled a thoughtful book that explains why, how, and when. This important book will redefine our thinking about self-interest and social movements.--David S. Meyer, University of California, Irvine