The Normative Demand for Deference in Political Solidarity


  • Kerri Woods
  • Joshua Hobbs



Allies of those experiencing injustice or oppression face a dilemma: to be neutral in the face of calls to solidarity risks siding with oppressors, yet to speak or act on behalf of others risks compounding the injustice. We argue that adhering to a normative demand for deference (NDD) to those with lived experience offers would-be allies a way of navigating this dilemma. While theorists of solidarity have generally focused on epistemic benefits of the NDD, we identify a second important and neglected good in bearing witness. However, how the NDD can be adhered to in practice also raises challenges. While the literature focuses on a gold standard model of direct engagement, we defend a valuable role for a second-order form of engagement through reading, films, and similar media. This second-order form of engagement may be particularly salient for global and transnational solidarity, an important element of contemporary global politics.